One of the first things we do to check for fever is to measure the temperature of the patient. Reading temperatures is one of the first steps taken by any caregiver at any of the medical facilities anywhere in the world. Rise in body temperatures indicates that there is something amiss within the body and could be a sign of infection or illnesses or any other medical condition. So, checking for fever is important, as it is often the first symptom for a medical condition.
Therefore, measuring the temperature is foremost to provide the necessary medical care, and the instrument to measure the temperature of the body is consequently equally important. Apart from clinics and healthcare centres, almost all households have a thermometer – which is a device to measure temperature. In fact, it is the most basic equipment when putting together a medicine box at home or in a doctor’s clinic.
There are a number of types of thermometers, from the ones used for newborns where the instrument is inserted in the anus for measuring the temperature, to the ones used to measure body temperature via the mouth, scrotum or under the arms. However, medical practitioners believe that the most accurate measure of body temperature is through the ear. It is said that the ear temperature best reflects the temperature of the body as well as that of the brain. And, to measure the temperature within the ear, also termed as tympanic membrane temperature, an ear thermometer is a necessity which is an easy to operate device. The thermometer measures temperature of the ear canal, which is obtained quickly and is quite an accurate reading of the body temperature to check for fever. Additionally, these thermometers are easy to use, especially when trying to take the temperature of babies and toddlers.
How to measure the temperature using such a thermometer?
Usually, it depends on the type of the thermometer regarding how to use it and directions are provided with it but the basic steps involve-
- Removing the thermometer and placing a new cover on its tip which is discarded after use.
- Next, hold the head of the patient and ask the patient, a child or an adult, to stay still. When measuring the temperature for a child, it is recommended to pull their ear straight back while for adults the method involves pulling the ear up and then pulling it backwards. This allows the tip to reach the ear canal easily.
- Next, insert the tip of the thermometer into the opening of the ear gently. The eardrum must not be touched by the tip.
- After that press the button on the thermometer to turn it on and wait till it beeps or till it takes a reading.
- Then, gently remove the thermometer from the ear and check its display window to read the temperature displayed on the screen.
- If you want to take multiple readings then it is best to note down the temperature displayed.
- Next, discard the cover from the tip and place the thermometer back in its holder.
Before using the thermometer to measure tympanic membrane temperature it is advices to clean the ear off any wax present, since it can affect the reading while acting as an obstructive barrier.