Ten Tips You Need to Know About Temperature Checks

by Dr. Tanya Altmann

1. Detecting a Fever During Flu Season and COVID-19

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a temperature reading of 100.4°F degrees or higher is generally considered a fever. As a rule of thumb, any infant under 3 months of age with any temperature reading of 100.4°F or higher rectally, or 99.5°F on Braun's ear or no touch thermometers, should be evaluated by a medical professional. 

2. Temperature Checks and Back to School or the Office

Because fever is often the first symptom of COVID-19 for those who exhibit symptoms as well as a key symptom of the flu, it is important that parents have a reliable thermometer at home for temperature screening in order to help identify signs of potential illness and keep your community safe. Temperature checks are now part of the school drop off, dining out or returning to office, but taking your temperature at home helps you monitor your family’s numbers and health.

3. Get to Know Your Personal Temperature Range

You probably grew up believing normal body temperature was 98.6°F, and anything different meant that you were sick. However, normal body temperature is a range-not one specific value. The range of values can vary anywhere from 94.5°F to 100.3°F, depending on the person, age and the place on the body where the temperature is taken. It's important to get to know your personal range so you can monitor when you are tracking high or low and what that may mean for you. 

4. Consider the Influence of Weather

There are many external factors that can impact temperature readings, including exposure to cold or hot air temperatures. All skin or no touch thermometers suggest that you wait 30 minutes at room temperature to take a reading if you have been in cold or hot air. At the same time, if you are working out and sweating this can also impact your reading. As we enter the cooler months and temperature checks remain part of our daily lives, I recommend taking your temperature first thing in the morning before you leave the house so you can best control factors such as cold weather or heated car. Alternatively, if you cannot wait and need an accurate reading, you can take a Braun Ear reading or a rectal reading-both of which are insulated from external influences.

5. Find the Thermometer that is Right for You

The ear is one of the best sites for temperature measurement because it reflects the core temperature of the body, allowing for a precise reading. The Braun ThermoScan 7 ear thermometer, is proven to be very accurate, easy to use and a favorite of many of my families for home use. On the other hand, no-touch thermometers are quick and generally comfortable for children and adults and work well for school environments and activities. The Braun 3-in-1 No Touch Thermometer measures in less than 2 seconds.

6. Treating Multiple Family Members

As preventative screening becomes more common, you may need to use your thermometer on multiple family members. Your thermometer should be cleaned in between uses, as necessary. I recommend using an alcohol swab or cotton swab moistened with alcohol to clean the thermometer casing and measurement probe. You should always wait 10 minutes after cleaning to take a temperature measurement. Many ear thermometers, such as the Braun ThermoScan 7, use single-use disposable lens filters or covers to protect the sensor and decrease transmission of germs between family members.

7. Pack your Thermometer

If your family is planning to travel this season, a thermometer has become the key travel essential to pack in your suitcase. In addition to choosing the thermometer that is best for you and your family, I recommend packing other supplies to help keep your family safe and healthy such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes as well as needed items in case anyone in your family does get sick such as fever reducer (check with your pediatrician for appropriate dose) and tissues.  

8. Get Medical Accuracy at Home

Sometimes, I'll have parents tell me they prefer to have their child's temperature taken in the office because they think our tools are more accurate. However, you can find thermometers for your home with the same level of accuracy as the ones we use in the office. For example, the Braun ThermoScan 7 Ear Thermometer is very easy for parents to use at home. Its guidance system ensures you properly position the sensor in the ear, and the color-coded display makes it easy to quickly interpret the reading.

9. Don’t Panic if Your Child has a Fever

A fever itself isn't a disease, it's just a symptom or rather a byproduct of an illness. Fever is actually a body's attempt to turn up the heat on germs and try to fight them off. It's important to know that any infant under 3 months of age with a temperature of 100.4°F or higher taken rectally, or 99.5°F or higher on a Braun ear or no touch thermometer must be evaluated by a medical professional right away as newborns can get very sick very quickly.  For older infants and children, don't panic, what often matters more than the fever is how your child is acting (interacting, eating and sleeping) and what other symptoms your child has (such as coughing or vomiting). 

10. When to Call Your Pediatrician for Fever

Call your pediatrician if your infant under 3 months of age has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher taken rectally, or 99.5°F or higher on a Braun ear or no touch thermometer.  For older infants and children, call your pediatrician if your child has a fever and can't keep down fluids, has trouble breathing, persistent vomiting, continuous crying or pain, difficulty waking up, seizures, looks sick or you are otherwise concerned or worried.  Even if your child looks well, any fever lasting more than 3 or 4 days warrants a call to your pediatrician.

Dr. Tanya Altmann and kindergarterDr. Tanya Altmann and kindergarter