What is the most accurate way to take temperature in adults? Find out here.

Last updated on April 22nd, 2024

Find out the most accurate way to take temperature in adults in this article.

Even though you probably only take your temperature when you’re feeling unwell, you may find it helpful to take it regularly as well. You can use different methods to become aware of your normal body temperature and to detect a fever, which is often an indicator of an infection or sickness. 

Using a trusted thermometer is vital in this day and age! We all need to look after ourselves.

Below are the Best Selling thermometer for Adults This Year

Contents

What is the best way to take temperature for adults?

Thermometers are the instruments used to measure body temperature. The temperature of an adult can be taken by mouth, ear, or under the armpit. The armpit method is less precise and is usually only used with people who are drowsy or not conscious. 

Normal Temprature Range:

Temperature ranges vary according to the method you use:

Method      Normal temperature range

Armpit         36.5°C – 37.5°C (97.8°F – 99.5°F)

Mouth          35.5°C – 37.5°C (95.9°F – 99.5°F)

Ear               35.8°C – 38°C (96.4°F – 100.4°F)

Types of Thermometers

Each type of thermometer has a different way of taking your temperature, even though the end goal is the same: to get an accurate reading of your body temperature.

1- Oral

Oral digital thermometers measure your body temperature using electronic heat sensors. Medicine specialist Michelle N. Brooks, an assistant professor at VCU Health and an academic hospitalist, says taking your temperature orally is the most accurate way to take temperature in adults. You can use oral thermometers if your child is over the age of 4 and can keep their mouth closed while their temperature is being taken to ensure an accurate reading.

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Here are the steps to taking your temperature orally:

  1. Turn on your thermometer and put the tip under your tongue toward the back of your mouth.
  2. Keep your lips closed around the thermometer.
  3. Remove your thermometer from your mouth one minute later, or after the thermometer has beeped once.
  4. Read the temperature readings.

2- Ear

Thermometers like these measure the temperature of the tympanic membrane within the ear canal. A tympanic thermometer measures the heat waves emitted from an eardrum. They can be used for children older than 6 months, as well as adults. Younger infants should not use them since their ear canals are too small for an accurate reading.

In case of earache, you should use an ear thermometer on the other ear to prevent further pain since inflammation from an ear infection may result in a higher temperature reading.

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You can take your temperature through your ear by following these steps:

  1. Remove all earwax from the ear canal so that the temperature can be properly measured. 
  2. To straighten the ear canal, gently pull the ear up and back.
  3. Turn on the thermometer and the instrument should be inserted until the ear canal has been sealed, or as instructed by the manufacturer.
  4. Be sure to hold it in place until it beeps.
  5. Take it out and check its temperature.

3- Forehead 

The device typically uses infrared light to determine the temperature under the skin on the forehead. Some forehead thermometers are no-contact, which means that they can be used at a distance to prevent the spread of germs. They are often called temporal artery thermometers. These can be used by children, adults, and infants older than 3 months old. 

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You can take your temperature through your forehead by following these steps:

  1. The thermometer should be turned on.
  2. As per the thermometer instructions, either aim the sensor at one spot on the forehead or gently sweep the sensor from the center of the forehead to the top of one ear.
  3. Read the temperature readings.

4- Armpit 

A thermometer can be used to take temperature readings under the armpit. It is also called the axillary method. The accuracy of this method is less than other methods. Both adults and children can take their temperature with this thermometer.

You can take your temperature through your armpit by following these steps:

  1. The thermometer should be turned on.
  2. Place the tip of the thermometer in your armpit, making sure it does not touch any clothing.
  3. Tightly hold the thermometer in that position. 
  4. Remove the thermometer once it beeps and read the temperature.

Temperature readings can also vary in accuracy depending on where they were taken and what type it was. Some types of thermometers may be better for different age groups, so speak with your doctor to find out which is best for you and your family.

The best time to contact a healthcare provider

If you need assistance taking your temperature, contact your healthcare provider. They can give you advice on what kind of thermometer is right for your family and how you should take your temperature or your child’s temperature. When you consult your doctor, you can ask things like how often you should check your temperature or if you should do anything to reduce your fever.

You should contact your healthcare provider right away if anyone in your household is experiencing a fever and any of the following symptoms:

  • Stiff neck
  • Chest pain
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Changes in your health that make you nervous

Keep in mind that maintaining your health, and the health of your family, is a joint effort between you and your healthcare provider. They can help answer questions about which thermometers to use, how to use them, and which numbers are important to note. Even though fever is scary, it is also trying to tell you something. Having a provider on your side can help you understand what’s being said and how to respond.

Tips to accurately take your temperature – most accurate way to take temperature in adults

  • Take your temperature at least five minutes before eating or drinking anything.
  • When you’re ill, you should take your temperature every day at the same time, and no more than three times a day. 
  • In certain cases, you will need to wait at least 20 minutes to obtain an accurate reading if you exercised, were exposed to cold or hot weather, or have just taken a hot bath or shower.
  • Wash your hands and use a clean thermometer.
  • It is important to be aware that each type of thermometer requires a different method of measurement, so be sure to read the manual that came with the device.

FAQ’s 

1- What type of thermometer do I need for Covid?

The temporal artery thermometer (forehead thermometer) is the most accurate touchless thermometer that can be used during Covid. A non-contact or no-touch infrared thermometer measures the temperature through the forehead from a distance in seconds. Using them allows for more physical distance and reduces the possibility of spreading any disease.

2- Are forehead thermometers appropriate for adults?

Yes, a temporal thermometer provides a quick reading within a few seconds. Their easy application makes them suitable for infants, children, and adults. Also, this is the second most accurate way to take temperature in adults after oral digital thermometers.

3- How should a thermometer be cleaned?

The method of cleaning a digital thermometer will vary depending on the type you have, but generally, it is best to wipe it with rubbing alcohol or lukewarm, rinse it with cool water, then wipe it with a clean cloth, and then let it air dry.

4- Is it safe to use mercury glass thermometers?

Mercury glass thermometers should not be used. Readings from these devices are often less accurate, and if a glass breaks, mercury can leak into the air and it might poison you. So, it is risky to use mercury thermometers.

Final Thoughts 

If you think you may have a fever, you should know how to take your temperature. An easy way to determine whether you have a fever is to take your body temperature through thermometers. From where to place the thermometer to selecting the correct one, we have shown you how to determine your body temperature. 

Hopefully, our article about which is the most accurate way to take temperature in adults made your decision easier.

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