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5/21/2014 How To Take An Oral Temperature - Care Guide

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How To Take An Oral
Temperature Care Guide
How To Take An Oral Temperature
How To Take An Oral Temperature
Discharge Care
En Espanol
How To Take An Oral Temperature
What is it?
An oral temperature (TEM-per-ah-chur) is when the
mouth is used to take your temperature. A temperature
measures body heat. A thermometer (ther-MOM-uh-ter)
is used to take your temperature in your mouth. A
person should be 5 years or older to have a temperature
taken in the mouth.
Why do I need to check an oral
temperature?
You may need to check an oral temperature to learn if
you or a family member has a fever. "Fever" is a word
used for a temperature that is higher than normal for the
body. Fever is usually a sign of illness, infection, or other
conditions. The normal oral temperature for adults is
about 98.6 F (37 C). The normal oral temperature for a
child is between 97.6 and 99.3 F (36.4 and 37.4 C).
The normal oral temperature for older persons is 98.2 F
(36.8 C). Body temperature changes slightly through
the day and night, and may change based on your
activity.
What kind of thermometer is
used to take an oral temperature?
A digital thermometer is used to take an oral temperature. It is a small hand-held device with a "window"
showing your temperature in numbers. There are many kinds of digital thermometers. Most digital
thermometers are easy to use and measure body temperature within seconds. Carefully read the
instructions before using your digital thermometer. Digital thermometers can be bought at grocery, drug,
or medical supply stores.
Glass thermometers with alcohol inside may also be used for oral temperatures. This thermometer is a
thin glass tube with a red or blue line inside it. These thermometers are safe to use for people over the
age of 5. A child younger than 5 may bite the thermometer, breaking it in their mouth. Glass
thermometers with galinstan (GAL-in-stan) may also be used to check an oral temperature. Galinstan
thermometers have a silver-colored line, but will be marked "mercury-free" when you buy one. Alcohol-
filled and galinstan glass thermometers are harder to find in regular grocery stores.
In the past, mercury (MER-kure-e) thermometers were used. This thermometer is a thin glass tube with
a silver tip and line inside. The silver tip and line is mercury. Mercury is a toxic and hazardous chemical.
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and other
organizations warn against using mercury thermometers. If the thermometer breaks, the mercury may
be breathed in or absorbed (soaked) into your skin. If a glass thermometer breaks while checking an
oral temperature, the mercury may be swallowed. Mercury is bad for your health, as well as for the
water, wildlife, and waste systems on earth.
If you have a mercury thermometer, replace it with a digital thermometer. You may also replace it with a
glass thermometer having alcohol or galinstan instead of mercury in it. If your mercury thermometer
breaks, do not touch the thermometer or the mercury. Do not try to clean up the spill. Open your
windows to air out the area. Take children and pets out of the area right away. Contact the following:
24-Hour Nationwide Poison Control Hotline
National Capital Poison Center
3201 New Mexico Avenue, Suite 310
Washington , DC 20016
Phone: 1- 800 - 222-1222
Web Address: http://www.poison.org
How do I use a digital thermometer?
There should not be anything hot or cold in your mouth for 10 minutes before taking your temperature.
Take the thermometer out of its holder.
Put the tip into a new throw-away plastic cover if one is available. If you do not have a cover, clean the
pointed end (probe) with soap and warm water or rubbing alcohol. Rinse it with cool water.
With your mouth open, put the covered tip under your tongue.
Close your lips gently around the thermometer.
Keep the thermometer under your tongue until the digital thermometer beeps.
Remove the thermometer when numbers show up in the "window".
Read the numbers in the window. These numbers are your temperature.
Your caregiver may want you to keep a temperature record. Write down the time and your temperature
each time you take it.
Remove or eject the throw-away cover if you used one.
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Place the thermometer back in its holder.