Different Methods to Measure Body Temperature


Measuring body temperature is quite a simple exercise. Anyone with bare minimum knowledge can perform this task. However, it involves some care to get the most accurate results or reading. Similarly, the procedure also involves selection of the right thermometer and then choosing the site of measurement. And lastly, you have to know what the readings mean in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit.

  • Oral method
  • Rectal method
  • Armpit method
  • Ear method

There are basically five sites for measuring body temperature and they are –

Each of these methods or sites is apt for measurement but it’s also necessary to consider the age and physical condition of a patient. So, irrespective of the site, you will need a high-quality clinical thermometer to get the job done in a standard manner.

1# Oral method

This method, considered the most common, is fit for taking temperature of those who can follow instructions. Accurate results are possible only when the patient has not taken some cold or hot stuff immediately before the act. Similarly, the level of accuracy may be impacted in case the patient is not able to breathe through the nose. The thermometer is placed under the tongue, on either side of the center and then the lips are shut for a while.

2# Rectal method

This method delivers the most accurate measurement of body temperature and that’s why it is used most often. It’s fit for all those not able to put the device safely in their mouths, like infants. After applying a lubricant on the bulb of the device, the same end is inserted some 0.5 to 1 inch into the anal canal for reading. Keep it there for at least 3 minutes and then rinse it with soap and water for further use.

3# Armpit method

It’s a simple method yet not considered as accurate as the oral and rectal ones. In this method, the device is placed under the arm for close to 5 minutes for taking a reading. The arm is then pressed against the body so that the temperature can be read. With this method, the reading you will get may be lower than what the oral method provides. But yes, the level of simplicity for taking the temperature will be matchless.

4# Ear method

The ear is also a site for measuring body temperature. This method is mostly used for children who are fidgety and can’t give oral temperature that easily. This method is also used for taking adults’ temperature in certain cases. And a special kind of thermometer is used and some care is needed like cleaning the device before putting in and so on.

5# Forehead method

You must have seen mothers using the forehead method to take the temperature of infants or children. This method does not provide accurate reading as it delivers surface reading rather than body temperature in true sense. Plus, only specialized devices are used in the procedure. So, if someone suffers from high fever, it’s better to trust other methods and get as much accuracy as needed.

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