A World of Thermometers: What You Need to Know

A World of Thermometers: What You Need to Know 1024 536 Community Clinical Pharmacy

A Guide to Selecting and Using the Most Suitable Thermometer

It is very common nowadays to have your temperature checked when entering a doctor’s office, work, or other facilities. In fact, we keep a record of the staff’s daily temperature at Community Clinical Pharmacy.

In order to choose the right thermometer, one should consider the patient’s age, ability to follow directions for use, accuracy, and cost. Ask one of our pharmacists and we will steer you in the right direction.

  • Always read the instructions that come with the thermometer
  • Clean the thermometer before and after each use
  • To accurately monitor changes throughout an illness, patients should use the same thermometer and same site of measurement
  • Temperature measurements have different normal values, based on the route used to measure

Choosing Between Thermometers

There is a wide variety of thermometers on the market. The table below describes some of the types of available thermometers, their accuracy, and pros and cons:


(digital probe

  • Most accurate. Patient has a fever if rectal temperature shows ≥100.4 °F (38 °C) 
  • Great for use in young children, especially infants <3 months of age. Caution: Potential risk of rectal injury. 
  • Do not use the same digital thermometer for oral and rectal use.

(digital probe

  • Patient has a fever if oral temperature shows ≥100 °F (37.8 °C). 
  • May be uncomfortable to keep your mouth closed long enough for a reading (about one minute). 
  • For use in children four years or older.

(digital probe

  • Less accurate than rectal or oral routes. Patient has a fever if the axillary temperature shows ≥99 °F (37.2 °C). 
  • Can be used in children three months and older. 
  • Incorrect placement, movement during measurement, and inadequate duration of placement may affect accuracy.

(digital tympanic thermometer)

  • May be more accurate than oral and axillary temperatures, if used correctly.
  • Patient has a fever if ear temperature is ≥100.4 °F (38 °C).
  • Uses an infrared scanner to measure temperature. It is safe to use
  • Takes only seconds for a reading. 
  • Not recommended in infants <6 months. 
  • Excessive earwax, a small and/or curved ear canal, ear infections, or improper placement can affect accuracy. 
  • Can give a reading that is too low.

(temporal artery

Available as touch and non-touch.

  • If used properly, may be the most accurate alternative to a rectal thermometer. It is important to read the instructions and use them correctly. Make sure the lens is clean.
  • Patient has a fever if forehead temperature is ≥100.4 °F (38 °C).
  • Uses an infrared scanner to measure temperature. It is safe to use.
  • Fast. It can be used for all ages and even when sleeping. 
  • Some can be used on the wrist, behind the ear, naval, and temple, but these sites may not be as accurate as the forehead.
Color changing strips 
  • Not recommended, due to lack of accuracy and reliability.
  • Detects changes in skin temperature, but not reliable to measure core body temperature.
  • Available as reusable and single-use (usually more expensive).
  • May be helpful for a quick temperature screening.

Sharzad Green, Pharm. D., is a hormone replacement specialist & pharmacist at Community Clinical Pharmacy, in Mesa, Arizona. She offers private Hormone Replacement Consultations to find a tailored solution that fits your needs. Sharzad has had the privilege of working with over 12,000 patients and providers in the Valley and around the world.

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Here to Help

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about your options when it comes to hormone replacement, please call Community Clinical Pharmacy and we can consult with you and your physician to find the best solution.

We serve the East Valley Metro Area including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and surrounding areas.

When in doubt, contact one of our knowledgeable pharmacists at Community Clinical Pharmacy. We are here to offer you solutions and assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Contact us with comments, questions, or pharmacy related topics you’d like to know more about. And, as always, stay healthy!



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