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Body Temperature

What To Think About

  • Thermometers with a digital display usually need a battery. If your thermometer uses a battery, make sure it is working before taking a temperature.
  • Body temperature is only one way of monitoring your health. Besides temperature, other basic measurements to monitor your health include your pulse, breathing rate (respiration), and blood pressure. These basic measurements are called your vital signs.
  • A fever can make you feel uncomfortable. To treat the discomfort of a fever, wear light clothing and use light blankets or other bedding. Drink cool liquids. A bath or shower with lukewarm (not cool) water can lower body temperature. Cool or cold water can cause shivering and can cause the blood vessels near the skin to contract, which will raise the body temperature further.
  • Fever-reducing medicines can lower body temperature and help you feel more comfortable. When a fever causes discomfort, use over-the-counter acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID), such as ibuprofen. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Aspirin also reduces fever but should not be given to anyone younger than age 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome. Talk to your doctor before you give fever medicine to a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. For more information about reducing fever, see the topics Fever, Age 11 and Younger and Fever, Age 12 and Older.
  • Glass thermometers containing mercury are no longer recommended. If you have a glass thermometer, contact your local health department for instructions on how to dispose of it safely. If you break a glass thermometer, call your local poison control center immediately.

Related Information

Citations

  1. Al-Mukhaizeem F, et al. (2004). Comparison of temporal artery, rectal and esophageal core temperatures in children: Results of a pilot study. Paediatrics and Child Health, 9(7): 461–465.

  2. Greenes DS, Fleisher GR (2001). Accuracy of a noninvasive temporal artery thermometer for use in infants. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 155(3): 376–381.

Other Works Consulted

  • Auwaerter PG (2007). Approach to the patient with fever. In LR Barker et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 457–465. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • El-Radhi AS, Barry W (2006). Thermometry in paediatric practice. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 91(4): 351–356.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last RevisedJanuary 18, 2013
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 18, 2013
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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