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Measuring a person’s temperature How to take the temperature of a baby, a child, and an adult.

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Presentation on theme: "Measuring a person’s temperature How to take the temperature of a baby, a child, and an adult."— Presentation transcript:

1 Measuring a person’s temperature How to take the temperature of a baby, a child, and an adult

2 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights What is a fever? A fever is a higher than normal temperature in a sick person. Normally, a person’s body temperature is around 98.6°F (37° C) when taken orally (by mouth). Fever itself is not an illness. It is a sign that the body is fighting infection through it’s own defense mechanisms.

3 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights What is considered a higher than normal body temperature? It depends on where the temperature is measured: 100.4°F (38°C) when measured rectally (in the bottom) 99.5°F (37.5°C) when measured orally (in the mouth) 99°F (37.2°C) when measured under the arm

4 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Types of thermometers There are various types of thermometers available. Choose the one most appropriate for the person’s age and ability to cooperate.

5 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Digital thermometers Digital thermometers provide the quickest and most reliable readings. They can be purchased at most supermarkets and pharmacies, and can be used for taking a person’s temperature by mouth, in the rectum, or under the armpit. Digital thermometers are quick and convenient, but require a battery and may not be functioning when it is most needed.

6 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Electronic ear thermometers Ear thermometers measure the temperature inside the ear canal. Although they are quick and easy to use in older children, they are not as reliable as digital thermometers, more expensive, and cannot be used in children younger than 3 months of age.

7 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Plastic strip thermometers Plastic strip thermometers are quick and easy, but they are not reliable for taking an exact measurement. They can tell you if your child has a fever, but not the exact temperature.

8 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Pacifier Thermometers Pacifier thermometers are convenient, but not reliable and should not be used in infants younger than 3 months. They require the child to keep the pacifier in the mouth for several minutes without moving, which is almost impossible for most babies and toddlers.

9 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Glass Mercury Thermometers Glass mercury thermometers were once commonly used, but now are they are not recommended because of the possible exposure to the environmental toxin mercury.

10 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Glass Mercury-Free Thermometers There are new, mercury-free thermometers available on the market. The glass thermometers are convenient because they do not need a battery, but are glass and require more care.

11 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Should all fevers be treated? A fever in a small infant (3 months or younger) should always be treated. However, a fever in an older person should be evaluated with the person’s overall condition. If the sick person is still alert, eating and drinking well, has normal skin color, and is generally comfortable, the fever does not have to be treated.

12 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to use a digital thermometer Either a digital and glass thermometer can be used when taking an oral (mouth), rectal (bottom), or axillary (armpit) temperature. To use a digital thermometer: 1.Wash the tip with warm (not hot), soapy water. 2.Press the “on” button. 3.Insert the tip of the thermometer into the mouth, bottom, or under the armpit. 4.Hold the thermometer in place until it beeps (about 30 seconds). 5.Read the display. 6.Turn off the thermometer, rinse under water, and put it away in a safe place.

13 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to use a glass thermometer Note that rectal thermometers have a shorter, squatter bulb than oral thermometers 1. Carefully remove glass thermometer from its case. Wash tip gently with warm (not hot) soapy water. 2. Hold the thermometer from the end opposite the silver or colored tip. Shake the thermometer carefully until the silver line is below 96°F (35.6°C).. 3. Insert the tip of the regular thermometer into the mouth or under the armpit. Apply a small amount of lubricant (petroleum jelly) to the tip of the rectal thermometer before gently inserting it into the rectum. Keep the thermometer in place for two minutes. 4. To read the thermometer, you may have to rotate it slowly to see where the measuring line is on the thermometer. Slowly turn the thermometer until you see the red, blue, or silver-colored line. Each long mark on the thermometer is the same as 1 degree. Short marks are the same as After using the thermometer, rinse and return it to its case. Store it in a safe place.

14 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to take a rectal temperature 1.Clean your hands and the thermometer, then dab a little K-Y or petroleum jelly on the bulb of the thermometer. 2.With your baby lying facedown across your lap or on a firm, comfortable surface, gently spread her buttocks apart with one hand and use the other to hold the thermometer between your middle and index fingers. 3. Gently insert the tip of the thermometer a half-inch to one inch into your baby's rectum. Hold it in place until you hear the beep (digital thermometer), or about 2 minutes (glass thermometer). Then slowly withdraw the thermometer to read it. 4. If the rectal temperature is over 100.4°F (38°C), your child has a fever.

15 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to take an oral temperature 1. Be sure the sick person has not had a cold or hot drink in the last 30 minutes. 2. Put the tip of the thermometer under one side of the tongue and toward the back. It's important to put the thermometer in the right place. Ask the person to close his mouth (but not bite down on the thermometer). 3. Help a child keep the thermometer in place. If the sick person is an adult, have the person hold the thermometer in place with his lips and fingers (not teeth) until the thermometer beeps (about 30 seconds) or 2 minutes (glass thermometer). Keep the lips sealed. 4. The person has a fever if the temperature is above 99.5°F (37.5°C)

16 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to take a temperature in the armpit (axillary temperature) 1. Gently pat the armpit with a tissue. Do not rub when drying the armpit because rubbing warms the skin. 2. Put the end with the colored or silver tip under the arm. Hold the arm down tightly at the side. 3. Keep the thermometer under the arm for 5 minutes or longer (glass thermometer) or until it beeps (digital thermometer). 4. Remove the thermometer without touching the tip. 5. Gently wipe the thermometer with a tissue before reading it. An axillary temperature of more than 98°F (36.7°C) is considered a fever. An armpit temperature is not as accurate as an oral or rectal, but will serve to indicate whether or not a person has a fever.

17 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Taking a temperature with an electronic ear thermometer 1. If your child has been outdoors on a cold day, he needs to be inside for 15 minutes before taking the temperature. 2. Pull the ear backward to straighten the ear canal. 3. Place the end of the thermometer into your child's ear canal and aim the probe toward the eye on the opposite side of the head. Then press the button. 4. In about 2 seconds you can read the temperature. 5. Your child has a fever if the ear temperature is over 100.4°F (38°C). The biggest advantage of the electronic ear thermometer is that it measures temperatures in less than 2 seconds. It also does not require cooperation by the child and does not cause any discomfort. Ear thermometers for use at home have been developed and they cost $30 to $40.

18 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Taking a temperature with an electronic pacifier 1. Have your child suck on the pacifier until the temperature stops changing and you hear a beep. This usually takes 3 to 4 minutes. 2. Read the temperature. Your child has a fever if the pacifier temperature is over 100°F (37.8°C). The electronic pacifier should not be used in babies younger than 3 months of age. They can indicate whether or not a child has a fever, but do not give accurate measurements.

19 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Comparing temperatures taken by mouth, in the bottom, or under the arm What is a high temperature (fever) measured one way may not be a high temperature measured another way. Generally, rectal (bottom) and ear temperatures are 0.5°F to 1.0°F higher than oral temperatures. Axillary (armpit) temperatures are usually 0.5°F to 1.0°F lower than oral temperatures.

20 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights Caring for a sick person with a fever Consult a health care provider immediately if – If the sick person is a child younger than 3 months of age – If the sick person has a fever over 104°F (40°C) Home care for a person with a fever includes: – Medicine to reduce fever such as Ibuprofen (Motrin), acetominophen (Tylenol), or aspirin. Do not give aspirin to a child younger than 12 years of age. – Plenty of liquids – Sponge baths with lukewarm water – Cool, loose clothing and blankets

21 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights For more information about how to care for a sick person with a fever Contact your health care professional Talk to your pharmacist Check on-line resources such as – –

22 Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights How to Take a Temperature prepared by Celine Woznica DrPH Heartland Health Outreach 4753 N. Broadway Suite 400 Chicago, IL This slide show was made possible through funding by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office on Refugee Resettlement. Heartland Health Outreach, the health care partner of Heartland Alliance, thanks both organizations for their support of immigrant and refugee health education and promotion


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