The Types Of Thermometers
Fever is a fundamental self-defense mechanism of the body against viruses and bacteria. It can also result from food poisoning, trauma, or severe mental and physical stress. This physiological change is manifested by an increase in body temperature above 37 ° C or 37.5 ° C, depending on where the measurement is made. The rise in temperature is necessary for the organism because it leads to an acceleration of the metabolism and, therefore, to a strengthening of the immune system.
Rather than trying to lower the fever with medicines, it is important to understand what caused the temperature increase and act effectively by intervening in the causes. The thermometer It is the classic instrument used to measure body temperature without necessarily having to visit the doctor. Before purchasing this product, therefore, it is very important to know the different types available on the market and what they stand out for. Each type has a different degree of accuracy and a specific area of use, so the most suitable purchase choice will depend on your personal needs. Below we will list the various types of existing thermometers and analyze their characteristics in detail.
The Glass Thermometer
In the past, they usually contained mercury, a metal banned since 2009 because it is highly toxic to the human body and the environment. For some years now, this type of thermometer has contained a less polluting and toxic metal alloy,galinstane. These thermometers can measure rectal, oral or axillary body temperature, but not the ear. The glass type is, therefore, an excellent choice for the reliability of the measurement and the low environmental impact. Still, it has the disadvantage of being fragile and entailing rather long detection times. Long. It may, therefore, not be the best option for children.
The Digital Thermometer
This type is very easy to use: press a button, and the measurement is done automatically. The detection time can be up to 3 minutes, and a short acoustic signal usually warns when the measurement is finished. Digital thermometers, depending on the type, can be used on the forehead, mouth, armpit and rectum. Furthermore, this type can offer a series more modes than the others, such as the memory function. However, this type of thermometer is slightly more expensive and battery-powered than glass thermometers. To be completely sure of the reliability of the results, we recommend checking on the packaging that the degree of accuracy exceeds 0.1 ° C. The higher the level of accuracy, the higher the price will be.
The Infrared Thermometer
Among all the existing thermometers, the infrared type is certainly the one that allows the fastest measurement since only 2-3 seconds are enough to obtain a response. There are three types: earphones, frontal or remote. Ear thermometers provide a higher degree of accuracy than the other two types. Still, we recommend reading the instruction booklet carefully before use in all three cases because the measurement process can be very delicate. The price is, on average, higher than the other types analyzed above, but it is undoubtedly a good investment for people who are always in a hurry or have small children who can easily keep still. Furthermore, the measurement mode is not at all invasive and in the case of remote thermometers, cleaning after the measurement is not even necessary.
The Liquid Crystal Thermometer
The liquid crystal thermometer, also called the forehead, consists of a plastic strip measuring the forehead’s temperature. The temperature value is measured by liquid crystals and indicated by the strip’s various colors. The measurement is very easy: place the plastic strip on your forehead and read the response after about 1 minute. The strips are for single use only and should be thrown away after each measurement. This type of thermometer can be useful in cases where continuous temperature monitoring is required or in particular clinical cases. Still, it is generally not recommended because it is less reliable than the other types. The results can be influenced by external factors such as sweating, cold hands in contact with the strip or the room’s temperature.
Where To Measure The Temperature
As we mentioned above, there are several methods of measuring temperature: axillary, auricular, rectal, oral or frontal. Below we will analyze each measurement area in detail:
- Axillary: placing the thermometer under the axillary cavity is the most traditional and accurate method, and in this area, it is possible to use both the glass and digital types. This method is minimally invasive and very simple because it is enough to be careful to position the thermometer parallel to the body and perpendicular to the axillary cavity. It is also important to take into consideration that the temperature can vary from the right armpit to the left one, and it is, therefore, advisable to always measure the temperature from the same side;
- Earphone: The measurement method in the ear is minimally invasive and very fast, therefore particularly suitable for children. The only type that allows you to measure the temperature in this area is the infrared one. The disadvantage is that the reading is inaccurate if the thermometer is not used correctly. In general, when choosing an ear thermometer, you must be careful always to take the measurement in the same ear or avoid using it in an ear where drops or other medications have been inserted first and, finally, make sure that the earwax has been previously removed;
- Rectal: this method, considered the “gold standard” by doctors, is the most invasive and accurate. It is particularly suitable for newborns, as it provides an accurate reading of the internal temperature;
- Oral: Digital and glass thermometers can be used to measure the temperature in the mouth. The measurement is very easy and quick, but you must be careful not to use the thermometer immediately after a hot or cold meal. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to wait about ten minutes after eating;
- Frontal: the measurement method on the forehead is very simple and minimally invasive, as it only needs to place the thermometer on the forehead (or a few centimeters away) for a few seconds. Infrared thermometers, both contact and remote, are very accurate. Still, you must follow the instructions carefully: for example, before use, it is good to ensure that the thermometer and the person have been at the same room temperature for at least 10 minutes. In the case of remote thermometers, it is advisable to ensure that the instrument is exactly at a distance indicated in the instruction booklet.
The Best Options For Babies And Children
In the first few years of a child’s life, it is important to keep body temperature under control, as it can indicate problems of a more serious nature. However, the measurement can be complicated, given the impossibility of collaboration on the part of newborns. Consequently, the first factors to consider before purchasing a suitable thermometer are ease of use and speed. It is also necessary to evaluate the accuracy of the results and the device’s invasiveness level. The baby thermometers on the market are mainly digital and infrared. Glass types are not recommended as they can break easily.
As explained above, liquid crystal types should be excluded due to inaccuracy. Digital thermometers are a very economical solution and can be used rectally, axillary or orally. Although the rectal modality is the only way to measure the actual internal temperature of the newborn, the detection is very invasive. It is not indicated in case of irritation or redness. The axillary model, on the other hand, is not very invasive. Still, it takes a few minutes to get an accurate response, and a similar amount of time can seem like an eternity with a restless baby. Using the oral thermometer is not recommended for children under four years old, as it requires cooperation to keep it in the correct position.
Infrared thermometers are a state-of-the-art and optimal solution for newborns. The newer models can be applied on the forehead and the ear. The temperature of the ear, as it is internal, is more accurate than that of the forehead. Still, using the thermometer in this area is not recommended in case of ear infections or other infections. In the latter cases, you can choose the forehead measurement option. This type has the advantage of being minimally invasive, hygienic, and fast. The measurement time is just a few seconds and is particularly suitable for newborns. Infrared thermometers are, therefore, the best solution for children, but keep in mind that they always have a higher cost than digital thermometers.
The Functions Of The Thermometer
More sophisticated thermometer models, especially infrared ones, offer some features that make them easier to use and increase reliability. The number of features included influences the final price of the device, but it is an investment worth considering, especially in the case of baby thermometers. We list below the main functions existing on the market:
- Memory: many digital and infrared thermometers are equipped with a memory function that records the latest values to monitor body temperature over a certain period;
- High-temperature alarm: when the temperature exceeds a given value, usually equal to 37 ° C, the thermometer emits an acoustic or visual signal;
- Automatic switch-off: using this function, the thermometer switches off automatically after a few minutes to prevent the batteries from being discharged;
- Night light: thanks to a backlight, it is possible to read the temperature on display even in the dark. This function is particularly useful if you want to take a baby’s temperature without waking him;
- Age Indication: This feature allows you to adjust the thermometer according to the child’s age. Fever determination systems can indeed change with age;
- Pre-heated tip: some ear thermometers have a function that heats the tip before use and thus increases the reliability of the response;
- Bluetooth: some models offer the possibility of associating the thermometer via Bluetooth with a mobile phone application, which allows you to monitor body temperature over time.
The thermometer is a device that usually does not need special extra accessories. The basic accessories of most thermometers are batteries and a protective cover. In the case of infrared ear thermometers, there may also be replacement tip caps (sometimes called probe covers). When using the thermometer on newborns, the tip refills ensure hygiene in the measurement and prevent the spread of infections. Some models on the market already have about ten spare parts in the package.