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Although your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day due to many factors – activity, time of day, and even what you eat – a sudden change in temperature can be an indicator that something is wrong with your health.
Although historically "normal" body temperature was 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a recent study found it was closer to 97.9. However, health experts are unanimous on what defines a fever as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. "Fever is often just a sign that your body is fighting an infection, and fever is good and helps your body recover," explains Mariellen Flaherty-Hewitt, MD, FAAP , chair of the interim department of general pediatrics. from Yale University. Medicine.
Temperature sensing is critical , and "accuracy is critical for your doctor to assess the situation correctly," he continues. "Many of us think we can guess with the back of our hand, but it turns out that it is not accurate."
He adds that getting an accurate thermometer (or two) for the family medicine kit should be a priority.
"You have to take your temperature every time you feel bad," explains Darren Mareiniss, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel School of Medicine.
There are many different types of thermometers to choose from. So what should you consider?
"I would use an oral, tympanic , or rectal thermometer," says Dr. Mareiniss. "Oral and rectal thermometers are more accurate." Although adults generally do not use rectal thermometers , which 'are the best core temperature readings and can often read a whole point higher than oral temperature', they are used routinely with children and hospital patients.
Dr. Flaherty-Hewitt recommends the use of axillary injections in older children and oral injections for "children who can follow directions" as well as for adults. "Infrared thermometers are good for detection, but their use is not recommended in specific clinical statements, such as evaluating fever in infants , as they can be affected by sweating or vascular changes," he adds.
Obviously you need an accurate thermometer. Dr. Mareiniss explains that you can measure your temperature multiple times to verify the accuracy of a thermometer. If it "consistently produces similar results," it is reliable. Also, Dr. Flaherty-Hewitt suggests finding one that is easy to use.
Here are the best thermometers on the market today.