Do you know the How to Use Oral Thermometer. A patient’s body temperature is an important vital sign as part of the secondary assessment, but it is usually reserved for patients with suspected fever from a viral or bacterial illness, hypothermia, or hypothermia.
During an influenza epidemic or in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, a temperature with an oral, tympanic, temporal infrared, should be obtained for nearly every EMS patient.
Just like any patient assessment component, familiarity, and competency with the skill improve with repetition, routine, and continuing education. Fortunately, employing a thermometer may be a relatively easy skill to accumulate.
Working as an EMT and then a paramedic in urgent care for several years, I was required to check the oral temperature of thousands of patients.
What is Oral Thermometer
An oral thermometer is a medical device used to measure body temperature by placing it under the tongue. It typically consists of a slender, glass or digital probe with a temperature-sensing element, a display to show the temperature reading, and a handle for ease of use.
Oral thermometers are commonly used in homes, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings to monitor body temperature, which is an important indicator of overall health and can help in diagnosing illnesses such as fever, infections, and other medical conditions. To use an oral thermometer, it is usually placed under the tongue for a brief period of time, as per the manufacturer’s instructions, and the temperature reading is then displayed on the device.
Oral thermometers are considered relatively safe and easy to use, but it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage and cleaning. It’s also important to note that oral thermometers are not recommended for infants, young children, or individuals with certain medical conditions that may affect oral temperature readings. In such cases, alternative methods such as rectal, ear, or forehead thermometers may be recommended.
How to Use Oral Thermometer
Using an oral thermometer is a common and straightforward method of taking someone’s body temperature. Here are the general steps to follow:
Make sure the person whose temperature you’re measuring hasn’t consumed hot or cold beverages, smoked, or engaged in any strenuous physical activity in the past 15 minutes. These factors can affect the accuracy of the reading.
Ensure that the oral thermometer is clean and free from any residue. If necessary, clean it with mild soap and water or follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
Ask the person to rinse their mouth with water if they recently drank a hot or cold beverage, as it could impact the accuracy of the reading.
Shake down the mercury or digital thermometer to below 96°F (35.6°C) if you’re using a traditional mercury-based thermometer. For digital thermometers, turn it on and ensure it displays “0.00” or similar to indicate it’s ready for use.
Place the thermometer tip under the person’s tongue and ask them to close their mouth gently. Make sure the thermometer is positioned properly and in contact with the sublingual area, which is under the tongue.
Advise the person to keep their lips closed and breathe through their nose during the measurement. This helps prevent the introduction of cool or warm air that may affect the reading.
Leave the thermometer in place for the recommended amount of time. This period typically ranges from 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on the type of thermometer you’re using. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the appropriate duration.
Once the recommended time has passed, gently remove the thermometer from the person’s mouth while being careful not to touch the tip with your hands.
Read and record the temperature displayed on the thermometer. For digital thermometers, the reading should be clearly visible on the screen. If you’re using a mercury-based thermometer, hold it at eye level and look for the highest point reached by the mercury column.
Clean and sanitize the thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions before storing it.
Remember that temperature readings can vary slightly depending on the type of thermometer used, so it’s important to follow the instructions specific to the thermometer you have. Additionally, if you have any concerns or questions about using an oral thermometer, consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.
The Difference Between Rectal and Oral Thermometers
Rectal and oral thermometers are both used to measure body temperature, but they are designed for different methods of measurement and have specific purposes.
Here’s an explanation of the difference between rectal and oral thermometers:
Placement: The key difference between rectal and oral thermometers is where they are placed in the body for temperature measurement.
Rectal Thermometers: These thermometers are designed to be inserted into the rectum, typically about an inch or so. The rectal temperature is considered one of the most accurate readings as it reflects the core body temperature.
Oral Thermometers: These thermometers are used by placing them under the tongue, against the back of the mouth. The oral temperature is generally slightly lower than the rectal temperature and provides a good estimation of the core body temperature.
Design: The design of rectal and oral thermometers also varies slightly to accommodate the different methods of use.
Rectal Thermometers: These thermometers usually have a short, rounded tip that facilitates easy insertion into the rectum. They often have a wider base or flared handle to prevent accidental over-insertion and make them easy to hold.
Oral Thermometers: These thermometers typically have a longer and thinner shape compared to rectal thermometers. They are designed to be comfortable under the tongue and may have a flexible or bendable tip.
Hygiene and Safety: Proper hygiene and safety measures should be followed while using both rectal and oral thermometers.
Rectal Thermometers: Because rectal thermometers are inserted into the rectum, they should be thoroughly cleaned before and after each use. Using a disposable probe cover is recommended to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Oral Thermometers: Since oral thermometers are placed in the mouth, it is important to clean them properly before and after each use. Some oral thermometers come with disposable probe covers, while others can be wiped clean with alcohol or soapy water.
Recommended Usage: The choice between rectal and oral thermometers depends on factors such as age, individual preference, and the specific circumstances.
Rectal Thermometers: These thermometers are often used for infants, young children, and individuals who cannot reliably cooperate for an oral temperature measurement. They are considered the most accurate method for infants under three months old.
Oral Thermometers: These thermometers are commonly used for older children and adults who can safely hold the thermometer under their tongue and keep their mouths closed for accurate readings.
How Do I Take an Oral Temperature?
To take an oral temperature, follow these steps:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before beginning the process.
Make sure the person whose temperature you’re measuring hasn’t had any hot or cold drinks, smoked, or engaged in vigorous physical activity for at least 15 minutes prior to the measurement.
Shake down a digital oral thermometer or clean the tip of a mercury thermometer with an alcohol swab.
Place the tip of the thermometer under the person’s tongue, as far back as comfortable.
Instruct the person to close their lips gently around the thermometer to hold it in place.
Advise the person not to bite down or talk while the thermometer is in place, as it may affect the accuracy of the measurement.
Leave the thermometer in the person’s mouth for the recommended time as per the manufacturer’s instructions (typically around 30 seconds for digital thermometers).
Once the time is up, carefully remove the thermometer from the person’s mouth without touching the tip.
Read the temperature on the display of a digital thermometer. For a mercury thermometer, hold it at eye level and rotate it until you can see the mercury column. Take note of the temperature at the level of the mercury.
Record the temperature and clean the thermometer tip with an alcohol swab or wash it thoroughly with soap and water before storing it.
Remember, oral temperature measurements are generally considered accurate for most individuals. However, certain factors like drinking hot or cold liquids or breathing through the mouth can affect the reading. If you have concerns about the accuracy of the measurement or if the person is unable to keep the thermometer in their mouth, consult a healthcare professional for alternative methods of temperature measurement.
What do I need to know about taking a temperature?
Taking a person’s temperature is a common medical procedure used to measure their body temperature, which can help indicate whether they have a fever or are experiencing other health issues. Here are some key points to know about taking a temperature:
Types of thermometers: There are various types of thermometers available for measuring body temperature, including digital thermometers, ear (tympanic) thermometers, forehead (temporal artery) thermometers, and oral or underarm (axillary) thermometers. Each type has its own instructions for use, so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Digital thermometers: Digital thermometers are widely used and offer accurate readings. They can be used orally, rectally, or under the armpit, depending on the model. Make sure to clean the thermometer before and after use to maintain hygiene.
Ear thermometers: Ear thermometers are specifically designed to measure the temperature in the ear canal. They are quick and easy to use but require proper placement for accurate results. It’s important to follow the instructions provided with the specific model.
Forehead thermometers: Forehead thermometers use infrared technology to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead. They are non-invasive and provide quick results. Correct positioning on the forehead is essential for accurate readings.
Oral thermometers: Oral thermometers are placed under the tongue to measure body temperature. It’s important to keep the mouth closed during measurement and avoid eating or drinking beforehand, as it can affect the reading.
Underarm thermometers: Underarm thermometers are placed in the armpit to measure body temperature. This method may not be as accurate as others, and it typically takes longer to get a reading.
Follow instructions: To ensure accurate temperature measurement, carefully follow the instructions provided with your thermometer. This includes proper placement, duration, and any additional precautions mentioned.
Normal body temperature: The average normal body temperature for adults is generally considered to be around 98.6°F (37°C). However, individual variations can exist, and a normal temperature may range between 97°F (36.1°C) and 99°F (37.2°C).
Fever: Fever is generally defined as a body temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. It often indicates an underlying infection or illness. However, it’s important to note that the interpretation of fever can depend on individual circumstances, such as age and overall health.
Seek medical advice: If you have concerns about your temperature or are experiencing other symptoms, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and appropriate medical care.
Remember, while taking a temperature is a useful diagnostic tool, it’s important to consider other symptoms and consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation of your health condition.
Q: How do I use an oral thermometer?
A: Using an oral thermometer is a simple process. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling the thermometer.
- Make sure the thermometer is clean and free from any debris or residue.
- Place the thermometer tip under your tongue, towards the back of your mouth.
- Close your lips gently around the thermometer to hold it in place.
- Keep your mouth closed and avoid talking or moving your tongue while the thermometer is in place.
- Wait for the recommended amount of time (usually around 30 seconds to 1 minute) or until you hear a beep, indicating that the temperature has been measured.
- Remove the thermometer from your mouth and check the temperature reading on the display.
- Record the temperature if necessary, and clean the thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions before storing it.
Q: Are there any specific precautions I should take when using an oral thermometer?
A: Yes, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:
- Make sure the thermometer is intended for oral use. Some thermometers are designed for specific purposes, such as rectal or ear measurements.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything hot or cold immediately before taking an oral temperature, as it may affect the accuracy of the reading.
- Wait for at least 15 minutes if you have recently consumed a hot or cold beverage before taking an oral temperature measurement.
- Do not bite or clamp down on the thermometer with your teeth, as it may damage the device.
- Supervise children or individuals who may have difficulty using the thermometer correctly to ensure safety and accurate readings.
Q: What should I do if the oral thermometer reading is too high or too low?
A: If you suspect that the temperature reading is incorrect or unusually high or low, there are a few things you can do:
- Double-check the placement of the thermometer to ensure it is positioned correctly under the tongue.
- Wait for a few minutes and retake the temperature measurement to confirm the reading. Sometimes, a slight discrepancy can occur between consecutive readings.
- If you continue to get unusually high or low readings, it may be worth trying a different thermometer or contacting a healthcare professional for further advice.
Q: How do I clean an oral thermometer?
A: The cleaning instructions for oral thermometers may vary depending on the specific model and manufacturer. However, here are some general guidelines:
- Remove the battery if the thermometer is not designed to be waterproof or if the manufacturer recommends removing it before cleaning.
- Wipe the thermometer with a soft cloth or tissue to remove any visible residue or moisture.
- Use a mild soap and water solution or an alcohol wipe to clean the thermometer probe. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, as some thermometers may have specific cleaning recommendations.
- Rinse the thermometer with clean water if necessary, but take care not to immerse the entire device in water if it is not waterproof.
- Allow the thermometer to air dry thoroughly before storing it or using it again.
- Reinsert the battery, if applicable, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Q: Can I use an oral thermometer for other types of temperature measurements?
A: Oral thermometers are primarily designed for measuring body temperature orally. While it’s possible to use some oral thermometers for other purposes (such as measuring ambient room temperature), it is generally recommended to use thermometers specifically designed for those purposes for accurate results. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended use of your specific thermometer model.
In conclusion, using an oral thermometer is a straightforward process. Ensure that you wash your hands before handling the thermometer and place the tip under your tongue, towards the back of your mouth. Keep your mouth closed, avoid talking or moving your tongue, and wait for the recommended time or until you hear a beep. Remove the thermometer and check the temperature reading on the display.
If the reading seems inaccurate, double-check the placement, retake the measurement, or seek professional advice if necessary. Clean the thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions before storing it. Remember to use an oral thermometer only for its intended purpose and follow any specific precautions provided.