Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Which Thermometer is Best?

CNN ran a story on thermometers this week and I was concerned the reporter didn't answer the question we as parents want to know. The reporter didn't ask about the new over-the-counter head thermometers that are supposed to be more accurate than ever before. I think they're so much easier to use, but if they are completely inaccurate, I need to throw it away.

Here's the CNN story:

During cold and flu season, taking a child's temperature can be a real challenge for some parents, but experts say it doesn't have to be. They say to get an accurate reading, you need to use the type of thermometer most appropriate for your child's age.

  • Rectal Thermometer:best for infants under three months
  • Underarm or rectal thermometer: best for children between three months and three- years-old
  • Thermometer under the tongue: older than three-years-old

A normal temperature is around 98-point-6 degrees. Experts say any temperature over 100 is reason to see a doctor.

So, here's are the responses from Dr. Elizabeth Kramer, the Pediatric Residency Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.

Jen: Do you agree with the recommendations?

Dr. Kramer:"I agree with all of the recommendations except seeing a Dr. if thetemperature is over 100. The number is not as important as the child's level of activity. If the child is listless, lethargic, inconsolable, not drinking or urinating they need to be seen immediately regardless ofthe temperature. The exception to this recommendation is if a child under 2months of age has a temperature over 100.4 rectally they need tobe seen immediately (do not give medicines to reduce fevers) regardlessof the child's appearance."

Jen: What thermometers do local pediatricians recommend using?

Dr. Kramer: "Pediatricians recommend the use of digital thermometers either orally or rectally. These are the most accurate on the market.

Jen: How accurate are the over the counter head thermometers that are on the market now? They package says they are much more accurate than older versions.

Dr. Kramer:"I am unaware of studies with regards to the accuracyof the forehead thermometers."

Jen: What about the ear thermometers you can buy over the counter? How accurate are they?

Dr. Kramer:"If an ear thermometer is used correctly it can be as accurate as a digital thermometer unless the child is under 3 years of age. Bottom line: Use a Digital thermometer."

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Diane Vespa said...

I love the ear thermometers. They are super fast and the only thermometer the kids don't object to me using! I don't know how accurate they are but they at least give you an idea of what you are dealing with! said...

I agree. I love my ear thermometer and the head thermometer. The head thermometer tends to have an error reading though. The ear one is super fast and easy to use. I guess I will stick with that one unless the fever gets really high and I need to know the exact temperature. Then, the lovely digital rectal thermometer will have to be used. Ugh!

Ian Schwartz said...

I bought a $5.99 thermometer at CVS. It says it does not use mercury, but it didn't name the magical substance inside. When I was sick the other week it said I had a 104 temp. Either I was deathly ill or it's a cheap piece of junk.

Knight in Dragonland said...

In my experience, the ear thermometers often give an inaccurately low reading. I have frequently seen temps of 95 and 96 charted when tympanic temps were taken. If that were actually true, then the child would be hypothermic and likely in shock.

No thermometers marketed in this country use mercury any longer.

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