I remember the first time my daughter woke up with an episode of high fever. He was five months old and I was totally scared. Not know what to do! How to take your temperature? Which thermometer, of the three you had at home, was the most reliable? As time goes by, I am almost an expert! and that is why today I want to share with you some knowledge that I have acquired in this time about what is the most accurate method of taking a child's temperature with a fever.
When I was little, at home there was only one thermometer, the mercury one, which my mother always put under my armpit or in my groin.
Over the years, health organizations have warned that mercury, a component of this type of thermometer, could have a danger to human health and the environment, and they withdrew them from the market and replaced them with very different ones:
- Digital thermometer
Perhaps it is one of the most complete because with it you can take the axillary temperature (it is placed under the bare armpit), sublingual (under the tongue with the mouth closed and breathing normally and taking into account that the child has not taken nothing cold or hot in the last 15 minutes to have a more reliable result) and rectal (it is inserted 2 or 3 centimeters into the rectum).
- Skin thermometer
Perhaps it is the one that most parents have in their small home medicine cabinet, since it is very easy to use. It is placed close to the child's forehead, the power button is pressed and when the signal is heard, you look at the viewfinder.
- Ear thermometer
Also known as a tympanic thermometer, what it does is take the temperature inside the ear canal. As in the previous cases, you have to wait for the thermometer to sound to check the temperature.
And once, when I already knew which thermometers I could use and that I got hold of all of them (a cautious woman is worth two), a second question arose. How to take the child's temperature? What part of the body shows the most reliable data?What is the most accurate method of taking temperature? This is what I found out!
- Therectal temperature
This method has its pros and cons. On the one hand, according to experts, it is the most accurate of all because "it is close to the core temperature of the body", but on the other hand it can be a bit uncomfortable for the little one and, also, not hygienic.
- Theaxillary temperature
It is a very comfortable, practical and easy method, but at the same time it is one of the least reliable and least accurate since, if we compare its data with that obtained with rectal temperature, there may be a deviation of almost one degree.
- Thesublingual temperature
It requires, as we have said above, a previous preparation and, also, a collaboration of the child. Perhaps, for that reason, it is the one that fewer parents use to take their child's temperature.
- Thetympanic thermometry
As with axillary temperature, it is not entirely very reliable and, another circumstance to bear in mind, is limited by the size of the ear canal.
- Theskin temperature
It is a more accurate method than the tympanic thermometer and more comfortable than taking a rectal temperature, but be careful! It can be quite inaccurate, because its result can be varied by external factors such as sweat.
As you can see, taking a child's temperature is almost like taking a master's degree. And, I have to say, in my research I also learned that the age of the child also influences when taking the temperature:
Here I am referring to children with less than 4 weeks of age where axillary versus rectal taking is recommended due to possible risk of perforation.
- Children up to 2 years
In this case, two sites are chosen: as screening, the axillary and, as a definitive measure, the rectal.
- From 2 to 5 years
According to the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics, the axillary or tympanic screening is used as screening and the rectal one as definitive.
- Over 5 years old
Finally, in those children older than 5 years, axillary, tympanic or temporal and oral temperatures can be used.
And, now that you know how to take the child's temperature in case of fever, it doesn't hurt to review some important concepts about fever:
- Fever is a defense mechanism of the body.
- The temperature should not be taken routinely. It is lower in the morning and usually rises in the afternoon-nights and can be up to a degree of difference between the morning and the evening intake.
- The temperature of the child, due to its metabolism, is higher than that of an adult.
- A fever is considered to be a rectal or sublingual temperature equal to or greater than 38 ºC.
- Most of the time, fever is associated with benign and self-limited processes.
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