All about Thermometers

A thermometer should always be stashed somewhere in the home so that if and when a fever develops, a run to the local drugstore is not a necessity. These days, there are a variety of options available so there is no reason not to have one on hand to check for a fever.
Basic Tips
There are many thermometers available in stores or online today. It can be confusing to decide which is best. The first tip is to assess a loved one's vision and hearing. While most thermometers do give an accurate reading, not all are equally easy to use. Here are four basic considerations for selecting a thermometer:
1) Speed: How fast is the thermometer? Caregivers need to remember a loved one may not have the physical ability to hold a thermometer for an extended period of time, especially if it's an area harder to reach independently. 
2) Ease of use: Make sure a loved one knows exactly how to use the thermometer and that it's something they can remember on their own at a time they may not be feeling 100 percent. 
3) Cost: This may be a factor since some thermometers can be pricy, but should not outweigh the others. If a loved one won't use a less expensive thermometer, this becomes a moot point. 

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Types of Thermometers
Digital thermometers are by far the most common today. They run with battery power and use electronic sensors to display body temperature. Digital thermometers have been designed to be used: orally, rectally, axillary (under the arm) or in an ear. They provide a rapid reading, usually within 30 seconds, and beep to signal when finished. Oral and rectal readings are the most accurate. 
Digital ear thermometers use an infrared ray to measure temperature in the canal. They are also accurate, but remember that earwax or a small, curved canal can interfere with the reading.
Bulb thermometers are a traditional type, considered very accurate, but are lacking in the speed and comfort the newer models offer. If broken, they also risk exposure to mercury and broken glass. Some bulb thermometers are made without mercury today. 
These are placed directly on a person’s forehead and take a reading from either a digital thermometer or thermometer strips. They are simple to use and measure heat being emitted by the body in just one to three seconds. They are good to determine a fever, but professionals say they are not as accurate as the oral or rectal measurements. 
A good thermometer should be a staple in every person’s house, loved ones and caregivers alike. A backup is never a bad idea in case the primary one breaks, so that the hand on the forehead isn’t the only method available to see if a loved one is at more than 98.6 degrees. 


Today’s Caregiver magazine (, launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. ©, Inc.