An accurate, good quality thermometer is a medical device everyone should have at home; Whether it’s to check if your child actually has a fever and is just trying to avoid school, or if you’re concerned about your family members, a good thermometer will never be a waste of space! In this modern-day and age, there are so many different types of thermometers available that it can often be a daunting task to try and find the best thermometer. In this article, we’ve created the ultimate thermometer guide; We will help you better understand the most commonly used types of thermometers, how to use them, and a few things you should take into consideration before finalizing your purchase.
Types of Thermometers | Thermometer Guide
1. Digital Thermometers
Digital thermometers are probably the most commonly used and widely available thermometers currently available on the market. They usually feature a digital screen and involves a heat sensor that activates when you press the ‘on’ or ‘scan’ button. Today, you can find many varieties of digital thermometers for use in regions such as the ear, forehead, mouth, rectum, underarm, etc. Digital thermometers are usually powered by batteries, allowing for portability, and are widely known to offer accurate temperature readings.
2. Ear Thermometers (Tympanic)
‘Tympanic’ thermometers refer specifically to thermometers used by recording temperatures in the ear and involve the use of infrared ray technology. These thermometers also feature one of the fastest temperature recording times – showing results as fast as up to one second – making them extremely efficient to use; Checking a child’s temperature can often be quite the difficult task, but tympanic thermometers have eliminated any struggles you may face about this with this feature. They are also known to be one of the most accurate types of thermometers because the placement is close to the eardrum (which has the same blood supply as the part of the brain that controls our body temperature). However, ear thermometers are not recommended for babies as the size of the earpiece is too big and can cause damage to their ear canals – or to people with smaller or curved ear canals.
3. Infrared Thermometers
Infrared thermometers use infrared ray technology to measure the heat levels of the body. Although some infrared thermometers can be hard to use and are relatively expensive compared to other types of thermometers, they only take 1-3 seconds to scan body temperature and offer accurate results. However, all factors considered, these are not a ‘necessary’ purchase; they carry out the same task as other thermometers and are not ‘more’ accurate. Most infrared thermometers are forehead thermometers.
4. Strip Thermometers
Although strip thermometers are not as common as, say, digital thermometers they were in fact extremely popular a few years ago. They are a strip of plastic with liquid crystals that respond to changes in temperature. The reason they have lost their popularity is probably due to the fact that they are not very accurate and can be quite annoying to use. To use them, simply hold the strip from both ends, place flat on a dry forehead and wait 15+ seconds for the color to arise; green indicates a normal temperature. To achieve the most accurate results possible, always read the temperature on a strip thermometer whilst it is still on the forehead.
5. Mercury Thermometers
Mercury thermometers, as we’ve mentioned before, are the original official thermometers. They have a narrow shape and involve the use of either mercury or alcohol in a tube which gradually expands as it detects an increase in temperature. However, we’ve only included them in this guide for knowledge’s sake and do not recommend their use. Mercury thermometers have been widely phased out of use in hospitals and are not commonly available for sale due to their toxic nature. Coming into contact with mercury can have potentially fatal consequences, and thus should not be used. To dispose of any mercury thermometers you have, seal them in a plastic bag and check with your local authorities for the best way of disposal.
Factors To Consider Before Purchasing A Thermometer
Below are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding the best thermometer for yourself.
Although all thermometers carry out the same basic function, some thermometers have some interesting (but mostly unnecessary) features. For example, some thermometers may alert you with a beeping sound when the temperature recording is complete or when it detects a ‘fever level temperature. This is, indeed, a convenient feature but there would be no difference in the results if it was not there. Furthermore, some thermometers feature softer tips (usually in the case of stick or ear thermometers) for a more comfortable experience for the user. As we can see from our list of reviewed thermometers, some thermometers also flash either green, yellow, or red to indicate the seriousness of the temperature reading, offering a simple solution to the issue of often misunderstanding or misreading temperatures.
The speed with which some thermometers are able to scan temperatures and offer a reading varies from type to type. That is, stick thermometers may require 10-80 seconds to complete the temperature reading whereas an infrared thermometer can offer almost instant results within 1-3 seconds; This factor is most important to people with children.
In most cases, you get what you pay for. That is, it is important to take into consideration the price to quality ratio. Relatively inexpensive thermometers will probably get the job done, but they may not be accurate or durable. To rid yourself of having to buy a new thermometer repeatedly, we recommend buying a good thermometer of good quality regardless of whether the price is slightly higher than others.
Nowadays, many thermometers come with probe covers to safely keep the end of the thermometer safe and clean, and general protective covers to avoid any possible harm caused by the smaller parts of the thermometer. Thermometers are not a toy and should be kept away from and out of reach of children.
Before finalizing your thermometer’s purchase, you should decide which region you would like the thermometer to test. Some people are more comfortable with an ear (tympanic) thermometer whereas others prefer orally administered thermometers. To avoid any discomfort or disappointment with your purchase, you should be clear on which method/region suits you best.
Different thermometer brands have different levels of accuracy. Of course, the best option would be to choose the best thermometer with the highest accuracy, to avoid any confusion and worry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why am I feeling hot if my temperature is normal?
Having a fever is not the only reason one may feel hot. External environmental factors, stress, medication, etc. all play a part in how hot or cold you feel.
2. Which type of thermometer is the most accurate for adults?
Digital thermometers are widely accepted as the most accurate for everyone.
3. Can you use thermometers without a cover?
If your thermometer does not have a (probe) cover, simply ensure you are disinfecting the tip before and after use to avoid any transfer of germs.
4. Can I take my temperature with my phone?
There are some mobile applications that connect with in-hand thermometers through Bluetooth, but being able to check your temperature with your phone is unlikely – unless your phone has a built-in heat scanner.
5. Which thermometer is best for babies?
It is ideal to use digital rectal thermometers for babies.