Remember those old glass thermometers that our parents used on us as kids when we had a fever? You won't see those anymore in pharmacies because they've been phased out due to the risk of exposure to the toxic chemical mercury, that shiny, silver substance at the center.
“The way to go is really to use digital thermometers,” Dr. Carmina Arriola-Delos Reyes, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, shared in a talk at the Smart Parenting Raising Toddlers workshop. “Digital thermometers are the most accurate way to measure a child's temperature,” she adds. And there are various kinds to choose from.
Did you know that what we consider a fever depends on the route by which the temperature was taken? If you take your child’s temperature via the ear or the forehead, a temperature above 38 °C is considered a fever. When taken via the mouth, a temperature above 37.8 °C is a fever, and via the underarm, a fever is a reading above 37.2 °C.
For each of these routes, a specific type of thermometer is needed. There’s the rectal, oral, axillary (underarm), tympanic (ear) and temporal (forehead) thermometers. “There are also other types of thermometers, [such as] plastic strip and pacifier thermometers, but they are not readily available and their readings are not too accurate when compared to digital thermometers,” says Dr. Delos Reyes.
Forehead thermometers are convenient and easy, but she says they should not be used for taking the temperature of babies below 6 months old. At this age range, the only sign of a serious infection is often a fever, so getting the right temperature is important.
“Rectal temperature is actually the most accurate,” says Dr. Delos Reyes. “It is the most stable particularly [with the] the very young -- infants less than 6 months -- where the only sign of an infection might just be a fever.”
The most common type of thermometer used at home is the armpit thermometer. “Even in the hospital setting, ito din naman yung karaniwang method.” Dr. Delos Reyes recommends this type because “it’s appropriate for any age. It’s not too costly as well, so it’s worth investing on a good one especially if you have a young child.”
Here's a list to show you what the different types of thermometers look like. If you have yet to buy a digital thermometer, consider getting any of these: Chicco Basic Digital Thermometer for taking underarm, oral and rectal temperatures P379.75, The Baby Company
Omron Digital Thermometer for taking underarm, oral and rectal temperatures