Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Evaluation taking temperatures Treatment Home Care medications vomiting warning signs Underlying Cause Types

Fever in Children Taking Temperatures

Oral Method
The thermometer must be placed under the tongue with the lips closed. Most digital thermometers will beep when the temperature has been determined and the thermometer can be removed.

A glass (mercury) thermometer should be left inside the mouth for a full three minutes before reading. If performed correctly, oral temperatures can be very reliable. Oral temperatures normally vary anywhere from 97.5 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a little lower than the core body temperature.

Oral temperature should not be taken for at least 20-30 minutes after drinking a hot or cold liquid, smoking, or eating. Wait at least one hour after taking a hot (or cold) shower or bath prior to measuring body temperature.

Rectal Method
This method is the most accurate and should be the only method used for very young children. A well lubricated (e.g. KY jelly, Vaseline) rectal thermometer should be inserted gently into the rectum no more than 1/2 to 1 inch. Mothers should not be concerned, rectal temperatures are very safe and are not harmful. Do not use oral thermometers rectally. Rectal temperatures tend to run about 1 degree Fahrenheit above oral temperatures.

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Last Updated: Jan 29, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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