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The Fever 411

If a child comes down with a fever, do you know how high it needs to be in order to be sent home from school? Many schools will send children home with a fever of 100.4° F or higher and ask that they not return until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours. While fevers can sometimes be a sign of something that needs immediate medical attention, that’s not always the case. Below we outline the basics of a fever and the different thermometers available for taking a temperature.

What is a fever?

A fever is a temporary increase in body temperature, often due to an illness, infection or some other cause. When you have a fever, it’s a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on inside your body.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, having a fever is actually a good thing – it’s a sign that your body is healthy enough to fight an infection or illness. Many illness-causing microbes function best at the body's normal temperature. Therefore, a fever raises the temperature to prevent certain microbes from reproducing. A fever also kicks your immune system into high gear, spurring the rapid production of bug-clobbering white blood cells.

Most people's body temperatures fluctuate during the course of the day. It's usually a little lower in the morning and a little higher in the evening. A child’s temperature may even vary as they run around, play, and exercise.

Types of Clinical Thermometers

Below are the different types of thermometers that you can use to take a temperature. We’re often asked which type of thermometer is the best and most accurate, but there is no right answer! It comes down to personal preference, especially when taking a child’s temperature. Click each thermometer type below to shop.

Electronic Contact Thermometers

Electronic digital thermometers use a sensor based on thermistors, solid-state electronic devices whose electrical characteristics change with temperature. These types of thermometers provide fast, accurate oral readings using familiar methods.

Infrared Ear Thermometers

Digital ear thermometers, also called tympanic thermometers, use an infrared ray to measure the temperature inside the ear canal. Use of these units can be more comfortable for patients, especially for younger children that are unable to hold a probe in their mouth.

Temporal Artery Thermometers

This type of thermometer uses an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead by repeatedly sampling the temperature at the forehead and the ambient temperature.

Non-Touch Infrared Thermometers

These thermometers detect the intensity of thermal radiation between the person’s temple and the sensor. Infrared thermometers measure the amount of infrared heat produced by the temporal artery and adjust for ambient temperature. These non-contact thermometers are easy to use and are particularly helpful when taking readings on very young children, patients that have a hard time sitting still or have sensitivity or difficulty with being touched.

Digital Thermometers

Digital thermometers contain thermistor inside the tip which is used to measure the temperature.  Digital thermometers are easy to use and have a long life and replaceable battery. They are very accurate, waterproof for easy cleaning and a budget-friendly option.

Disposable Thermometers

These are single use thermometers that are easy to use, pliable, unbreakable and latex-free. They can be purchased either individually wrapped and sterile or in non-sterile bulk.

If you have questions about the different thermometer types, please contact us.

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