Fever indicates an increase in body temperature. A low-grade fever is usually beneficial because it is the body’s natural defense against infection. The reason is that many pathogens are only able to reproduce within a narrow temperature range. X Trusted Source Mayo Clinic Visit source However, a high fever (39.4°C or more for adults) is dangerous and should be monitored for treatment with medication. A digital ear thermometer, also known as a tympanic thermometer, is an easy-to-use device to monitor body temperature for both yourself and your children. Ear thermometers can measure infrared radiation (heat) radiating from the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and are considered fairly accurate in most conditions.
Following the Age Guide
Use a rectal thermometer for newborns. The selection of the best and most suitable thermometer for measuring body temperature is mainly determined by the age of the user. From newborn to 6 months of age, the use of a rectal (anal) thermometer is recommended because it is considered to provide the most accurate results. Cerumen, ear infections, and small, curved ear canals can interfere with the accuracy of an ear thermometer and make it unsuitable for use in newborns.
Some medical studies suggest that temporal artery thermometers are also a good choice for newborns because of the accuracy and reliability of their measurements.
Newborns have a lower-than-normal body temperature, usually less than 36 °C. While the normal temperature for adults is 37 °C. Babies have not been able to regulate their body temperature properly when they are sick, so their body temperature may fall instead of increasing and develop a fever.
Use an ear thermometer with caution on toddlers. Until a child is about 3 years old, a rectal thermometer still provides the most accurate core body temperature measurements. You can use an ear thermometer on a younger child to get an overall picture of his or her body temperature (better than nothing), but until the child is about 3 years old, taking the temperature in the rectum, armpit, and thermal artery (forehead) is considered preferable. accurate. Mild to moderate fever in toddlers can be more dangerous than in adults. So, accurate temperature measurement is very important at this age.
Ear infections are quite common and occur frequently in infants and toddlers. Due to inflammation in the ear, the measurement results of the ear thermometer will be affected. Ear infections will cause the temperature reading by the ear thermometer to be too high. So, take the temperature in both ears if one of them is infected.
Regular digital thermometers can measure temperature from the mouth (under the tongue), armpit, or rectum, and are suitable for newborns, toddlers, children, and adults.
Choose any thermometer for children 3 years of age or older. Over the age of 3, children tend to have less ear infections. In addition, cleaning their ears from cerumen deposits is easier. Cerumen in the ear canal can interfere with the accurate temperature measurement of infrared radiation emitting from the eardrum. Furthermore, the child’s ear canal has also been perfected and less curvature at this age. Thus, over the age of 3 years, all types of thermometers used in all parts of the body have a comparable level of accuracy.
If you use an ear thermometer to take your child’s temperature and are unsure of the result, use a regular rectal thermometer for comparison.
In the last ten years, ear thermometers have become quite affordable and can be found easily in pharmacies and medical supply stores.
Measuring Body Temperature
First of all, clean the ears. Accumulation of cerumen and other debris in the ear canal can reduce the accuracy of an ear thermometer, so be sure to clean your ears thoroughly before taking your temperature. Avoid using earplugs or similar methods because cerumen or other debris in the ear will actually clog the eardrum. The safest and most effective way to clean your ears is to use a few drops of warmed olive, almond, mineral, or special ear drops to soften ear wax. Continue by rinsing the ear (irrigation) with a spray of water through the ear cleaner. Allow the ear canal to dry before taking body temperature.
An ear thermometer will give a measurement that is too low if there is cerumen or wax in the ear canal.
Do not use ear thermometers on ears that are sore, infected, injured, or recovering from surgery.
Attach a sterile shield to the tip of the thermometer. After removing the thermometer from its case and reading the user manual, attach a disposable sterile guard to the tip. The tip of the thermometer will be inserted into the ear canal, so you need to make sure it’s clean to reduce the risk of ear infections (which children are prone to). If for some reason your ear thermometer doesn’t include a sterile shield inside, or it wears out, simply clean the tip of the thermometer with an antiseptic solution such as medical alcohol, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.
Colloidal silver is a great antiseptic and you can make your own at home, making it more economical.
You can reuse the thermometer’s protective film after cleaning it thoroughly. Be sure to clean this coating after and before each use.
Pull the earlobe back and insert the thermometer. After pointing the tip of the thermometer into the ear canal, try not to move your head (or hold the child’s head so it doesn’t move), then pull on the ear lobe to help straighten the ear canal so that the tip of the thermometer is easier to enter. In particular, gently pull the earlobe up and back (for adults), and gently pull it straight back (for children). Aligning the ear canal will prevent injury or irritation to the ear from the tip of the thermometer and allow for the most accurate measurement results.
Follow the instructions for using the thermometer to make sure it is inserted a proper distance into the ear canal. The thermometer does not have to touch the eardrum (tympanic membrane) because it has been designed to measure remotely.
An ear thermometer will use infrared radiation from the eardrum to measure temperature. So it’s also important to create an enclosed space around the thermometer by placing it deep enough into the ear canal.
Take body temperature. After the thermometer is gently inserted into the ear canal, hold it in position until the thermometer signals that the measurement has been completed, usually by making a beeping sound. Record the measured temperature and don’t just memorize it. Caregivers or health professionals may need this information.
Comparing the results of temperature measurements over a certain period of time will also make it easier to monitor fever.
The advantage of using an ear thermometer is that, if properly positioned, it can measure quickly and fairly accurately.
Deciphering the Result
Understand the normal temperature difference. Not all body parts have the same temperature all the time. For example, the normal temperature of the inside of the mouth (under the tongue) of an adult is 37 °C, but the temperature of the ear (tympanic) is usually 0.1-0.5 °C higher and can rise to close to 37.8 °C but is still considered normal. Furthermore, normal body temperature varies depending on gender, activity level, food and drink intake, time of day, and menstrual cycle. So, consider these factors when trying to determine if you or someone else has a fever.
In fact, the normal body temperature of an adult ranges from 36.6 °C to slightly below 37.8 °C.
Research shows that the results of measuring temperature with an ear thermometer can differ by approximately 0.3 °C from that of a rectal thermometer (the most accurate way of measuring temperature).
Determine if the fever is real. Due to the various factors mentioned above as well as possible errors in the thermometer and/or incorrect temperature measurement technique, try taking your temperature several times. Compare all measurement results and calculate the average value. In addition, also understand other signs of fever such as sweating, headache, muscle aches, decreased appetite, and thirst.
A single temperature measurement result should not be used to determine action or treatment.
Children may appear very weak without a fever, or appear normal with a temperature slightly above 37.8 °C. So, don’t make decisions based on numbers alone, pay attention to other symptoms as well.
Know when to visit the doctor. Fever is a common symptom of illness, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it shows the body is fighting an infection. Although an ear temperature of 38 °C or more is considered a fever, if your child is over 1 year old and wants to drink lots of fluids, seems cheerful, can sleep normally, you usually don’t need treatment. However, children whose body temperature is around 38.9 °C or more accompanied by symptoms such as fussiness, discomfort, weakness, and moderate to severe cough and/or diarrhea, should be checked by a doctor.
Symptoms of a high fever (39.4 °C – 41.1 °C) often include hallucinations, confusion, fussiness and severe seizures, and are usually considered an emergency.
Your doctor may recommend taking paracetamol (Panadol, or others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, etc.) to help bring down the fever. However, ibuprofen should not be used in infants under 6 months of age, and aspirin should not be given to children under 18 years of age because of the risk of causing Reye’s syndrome.