Coronavirus: The Right Way of Checking Your Temperature at Home, According to Doctors

From Entertainment Times

When you feel like you have a fever, the first thing you do is to take a thermometer and record your temperature. An essential in the medical kit, having a thermometer handy is also crucial during times of a pandemic, when charting every symptom is neccessary. Regular temperature checks using contactless infrared thermal scanners is a mandate now when you go out.

What to do if you suspect a fever

Even though thermometers work on basic philosophy, it can so happen that a thermometer can show inaccurate reading. A traditional thermometer (mercury one) can show different results from a digital one. It is possible for them to go bad, or show a temperature, which is different.

But which one can you actually trust? We spoke to a doctor who helped us understand what should one do while recording a temperature.

Can thermometers give wrong readings?

Thermometers, typically make use of infrared technology which sensor the heat from the forehead or other parts of the body to detect a flare-up in temperature. Different thermometers and scanners work in different ways. However, to correctly detect whether you have a fever or not, it is important to know the right way of using a thermometer. Getting the wrong reading is easier than right detection.

While digital thermometers can go bad, with infrared scanners, distance can become an issue. According to Dr Bharat Agarwal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, while infrared temperature scanners are one of the best available options, inaccurate readings can always be there. He says, "There are multiple reasons for thermometers to show up different readings. First and foremost, the range and distance for each of the units vary. The ones which have a 3-feet reading won't show the same results with a 6-feet distance. A low or faulty battery can also show discrepancies.

Ear, forehead, axillary-which one should you be trusting?

"Different thermometers can also throw up different reasons largely because of the way you use them. Traditional ones were taken orally, while digital ones, experts have started taking through axillary. Of course, one should be aware that there is a 1-degree Fahrenheit difference between the oral and the axiliary," adds Dr Agarwal.

Readings can differ based on the surface temperature as well, especially during these times. Depending on the environment a person is coming from, whether hot or cool, the external temperature can also make a difference in body temperature. Hence, ideally, you need to allow a person to settle into an ambient environment and then only proceed to record the temperature.

Precautions to take with your home thermometer

Using a thermometer can be one of the first ways to check the presence of infection at home. Dr.Rajesh Jaria, Consultant Internal Medicine, Hinduja Hospital Khar, suggests that to get the most accurate results, it is important to check temperature the right way, "There is no single best time to check temperature. Take best of three or best of five readings – taking the higher temperature rather than the lower ones.

Dr Agarwal also adds:

"There is a difference between the body's temperature during the morning and the night. Best way to ensure accuracy is to take an oral temperature. Be in an ambient environment. Make sure you don't have anything too hot or cold before you use the tool and most importantly, not share the thermometer- sanitizing them is equally important. "

What to do with young children?

Kids can be a little hesitant to record the temperature. If a kid is old enough to take an oral temperature, that's okay, otherwise, you can use the ones which have an intra-oral sensor, the ones which scan the temperature from the ear. Digital ones can also be used under their armpits to get an accurate reading.

How many times should be checking your temperature?

Because of the nature of COVID-19, it can be worrying to see a temperature spike up. However, Dr Agarwal mentions that recording your fever twice a day is more than sufficient.

"If you are asymptomatic, there is no extreme precaution you can actually take. However, if you have symptoms like a body ache or chills, monitor your readings twice or thrice a day."

He also adds that more than the number on the scanner, it is the nature and trend of the fever you should be taking care of. Consult a doctor at the earliest if you suspect other symptoms during the course of the fever.

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