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    Body Temperature

    How It Is Done

    Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer. Some common ways to take a temperature are described below.

    How to take an oral temperature

    Oral (by mouth) is the most common method of taking a temperature. For you to get an accurate reading, the person must be able to breathe through his or her nose. If this is not possible, use the rectum, ear, or armpit to take the temperature.

    1. Place the thermometer under the tongue, just to one side of the center. Ask the person to close his or her lips tightly around it.
    2. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time. Time yourself with a clock or watch. Some digital thermometers give a series of short beeps when the reading is done.
    3. Remove the thermometer and read it.
    4. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

    How to take a rectal temperature

    This is the most accurate way to measure body temperature. It is recommended for babies camera.gif, small children, and people who can't hold a thermometer safely in their mouths. It is also used when it is very important to get the most accurate reading.

    1. Apply a lubricant jelly or petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, on the bulb of the thermometer. This will make it easy to insert.
    2. With a baby or small child, turn the child facedown on your lap or on a flat covered or padded surface, such as a bed. Choose a quiet place so that the child won't be distracted or move around too much.
    3. Spread the child's buttocks with one hand. With the other hand, gently insert the bulb end of the thermometer into the anus. Push it in about 0.5 in. (1.25 cm) to 1 in. (2.5 cm). Don't force it into the rectum. Hold the thermometer in place with two fingers close to the anus (not near the end of the thermometer). Pressing the child's buttocks together will help keep the thermometer in place.
    4. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time. Time yourself with a watch or clock. Some digital thermometers give a series of short beeps when the reading is done.
    5. Remove the thermometer and read it.
    6. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 22, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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