What is the best way to take my child’s temperature?

Fevers, a.k.a. elevation of you child’s body temperature, can be very frightening. Your child may feel unwell, act irritably or appear sleepier. Typically, fevers are associated with an illness, although they can be associated with other inflammatory processes (some autoimmune conditions) and can simply indicate overheating (think athlete on a hot day or an over bundled infant in a car seat). While we all wish to be as good as our mothers and grandmothers and just place a hand on our child’s forehead and know that he or she is burning up, inevitable you will get the dreaded question at the doctors of how high the fever has been and for how many days the fever has been present. The pattern of your child’s fever (the height and the length of the fever) in addition to other symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhea), typically can indicate the diagnosis. So what’s the best and most accurate way to take your child’s temperature? First of all, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you always use a digital thermometer. Glass and mercury thermometers should NOT be used. The AAP also discourages use of pacifier thermometers and also fever strips. There are three types of digital thermometers: digital multiuse thermometers, temporal artery thermometers and tympanic (in the ear) thermometers. The digital multiuse can be used rectally (this is the BEST method for infants < 6 months of age), orally (when your child is > 4-6 years) and under the armpit (axillary) that is a good alternative for children of all ages. Both the temporal artery and the tympanic thermometers are accurate in infants older than six months, although there is evidence that excessive earwax may alter the reading. Please remember, for infants < 3 months and patients with supressed immune systems, please call the doctor for temperatures > 100.4 Degrees F (38 degrees C) immediately!! Please visit healthychildren.org for step-by-step instructions on how to use each thermometer: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/fever/Pages/How-to-Take-a-Childs-Temperature.aspx

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