6 Ways to Read a Thermometer: Explained with 5 Safety Tips

How To Read a Thermometer

Body temperature is an indicator of the ability of your body to create and dispose of heat. The body is quite capable of keeping the temperature in a healthy range, even when outside temperatures keep changing significantly. You can measure your body temperature throughout many places on your body, including your armpits, mouth, ears, and rectum. You can also measure the temperature on your forehead.

The thermometers are adjusted in either Fahrenheit (°F) or Celsius (°C) degrees, based on the region's custom. The use of a thermometer to monitor your temperature can help you identify a sickness. Infection typically causes an increase in temperature. Be sure to use good quality health care itemsand always read and follow instructions that come with the thermometer before using any type of thermometer.

What Is The Normal Temperature Of The Body?

Most people are convinced that typical body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F) measured by your mouth. This represents an average of typical body temperatures. Your normal body temperature may be 0.6°C (1°F) above or below 37°C (98.6°F). Based on how involved you are, and the time of day, the daily temperature also varies up to 0.6°C (1°F) throughout the day.

Body temperature is particularly susceptible to levels of hormones. As a result, when a woman is ovulating or has her menstrual cycle, the temperature can be above or below the average body temperature. A measurement of the rectal or ear temperature is somewhat higher than an oral test. A temperature obtained in the armpit is significantly lower than an oral reading. A rectal measurement is the most precise way of measuring body temperature.

Ways to Take a Temperature

Read the manual on how to use your particular brand of thermometer before measuring a temperature. Below are some specific ways of taking body temperature and how to read a thermometer.

  1. Rectum

This is the most reliable method for measuring body temperature. It is advised for babies, young children and people who can not safely keep a thermometer by their mouth. Also, it is used when the most accurate readings are very important. It can cause some irritation if deciding to take a rectal temperature, but it should not cause any pain.

  1. Mouth

The most common way of taking a body temperature is by mouth. The individual has to be able to breathe through the nose to get an accurate measurement. If that is not possible, take the temperature by the armpit, rectum, or ear. Getting an oral temperature only causes minor discomfort. The thermometer must be placed under your tongue and kept in place with your lips.

  1. Underarms

The underarm method is commonly used to examine fever in babies and small children. Taking an underarm temperature might not be as reliable as rectal or oral temperature. Even though the underarm method is not very accurate does not mean that it's not beneficial. This can be a useful way to monitor body temperature fluctuations. This usually doesn't cause any unpleasantness.

  1. Digital Pacifier

Pacifiers are not as reliable as the digital and ear thermometers.  The child must keep the pacifier in the mouth for around three to five minutes for the most accurate measurement which is problematic for many small children. If the baby is under three months of age, or if the fever of the child rises above 102°F (39°C), check once again with a better method.

  1. Ear Temperature

You may need to clean the ear thermometers before using them. Examine that the probe is debris-free and clean, and wipe it softly with a soft cloth if it is dirty. Do not place it underwater. Using an ear thermometer does not cause much or any unpleasantness. The probe is not placed much into the ear, and in just a few seconds it will give a reading.

  1. Forehead

These kinds of thermometers are not as precise as digital and ear thermometers. If a newborn is younger than three months of age or if infant fever rises above 102°F (39°C), take the temperature by using a better way of taking temperature. Taking a temperature on the forehead with a digital infrared thermometercauses no unpleasantness.

Safety Tips

  • Follow the instructions which come with the thermometer properly.
  • Clean the thermometer tip before and after each use according to the guidelines for your specific thermometer.
  • If you intend to take a rectal temperature using a digital thermometer, have another digital thermometer for oral use.
  • Mark each thermometer and do not use the same thermometer for the same locations.
  • For safety measures and to ensure that the thermometer remains in place never leave your kids unsupervised while you are taking their temperature.


If you feel unwell, it is necessary to use a thermometer to measure your temperature. The temperature reading on a thermometer can inform you whether or not you have a fever. There are several various methods when you are taking your body temperature. It's useful to know how to use it based on which method will work for you. Based on which thermometer you are using, the thermometer will either use a digital heat sensor or an optical scanner to read the temperature.

Consider taking your temperature again. If your temperature is lower or higher than anticipated. Use the thermometer as recommended by the manufacturer. When you still believe your temperature is not correct, try another method once more or use another thermometer. Contact your doctor if the temperature is not normal.


  1. How do you use a mercury thermometer?

Keep the thermometer on top and start shaking it rapidly until the mercury drops below the 95°F (35°C) label. Sit your kid on your lap. Raise your child's left arm with one hand and reveal the armpit with another and put the thermometer. Put the thermometer bulb in the armpit and lower your child's arm over it. Keep arm in that position for two minutes or as guided by the manufacturer, take away the child's arm and read the thermometer.

  1. How do I check my temperature with a digital thermometer?

Make sure your child hasn't had a warm or cold drink over the last 20 minutes. Put the digital thermometer tip below and towards the back of the tongue. Make your kid keep the thermometer on spot with his fingers and lips. The child should breathe via his nose, and keep his mouth shut. If your child is unable to hold his mouth shut because his nose is obstructed, blow his nose out. Keep the digital thermometer in the mouth until the required signal is heard and see the temperature reading.

  1. Is 99 a fever?

While a slightly higher temperature may be an indication that you can get sick, many other factors are affecting your body temperature regularly. If your typical body temperature is 97°F, lower-grade fever is considered at 99°F. But if the temperature of your body is 98.6°F and you feel fit and healthy, 99°F will be an almost insignificant fever.

  1. How do you shake down a glass thermometer?

Stand in a large open space so you won't hit the thermometer while shaking it down. Hold the end of the thermometer with your thumb and fingers at the opposite end of the bulb. Shake the thermometer with swift, strong wrist motions downwards. Read the temperature after shaking the thermometer off. If your thermometer shows 94°F  (34.4°C) or below, you have adequately shaken down your thermometer. If your thermometer shows 94°F (34.4°C) or higher, continue shaking the thermometer down until the required reading is displayed.



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