Management of pediatric patients with fever has been a continuous challenge to both
parents and medical providers. Fever in children is a common symptom to a
number of cases (ranging from mild to serious conditions of bacterial or viral
infections) and certain disorders.
Thus, effective recording of body temperature is a necessity to be undertaken by providers to check if the fever can be properly managed at home or needs immediate medical attention.
With the advancement of technology, digital infrared thermometers have been widely used and preferred at home and in the clinical setting as an important tool to provide accurate readings of body temperature for the management of child-patient care.
These digital thermometers use infrared rays or heat sensors to record body temperatures of children via the mouth, ear, armpit, or rectum within seconds.
Rectal digital infrared thermometers are generally preferred for infants (5 months or younger) and children (6 months to 5 years old), since they are reliable and consistent in giving off the most accurate results of the child’s body temperature.
The only disadvantage of rectal taking is the discomfort that most children experience
when the thermometer is placed in the anus. The proper way of taking the rectal
temperature is to place the child stomach down on the provider’s lap and use a
petroleum jelly on the tip of the thermometer before sliding the thermometer
gently to the opening of the anus. If the rectal temperature reading is above
100.4° F (38° C), the child has a fever.
Oral (mouth), tympanic (ear), and axillary (armpit) thermometers are preferred for
older children (5 years old and above). For oral readings, the child must not
be taking a cold or hot drink or eating in the last 30 minutes before taking
the temperature. The thermometer should also be placed under one side of the
mouth and have the child hold the thermometer with his lips and fingers
properly. The mouth must be closed to provide an accurate reading. If the oral
temperature is above 100° F (37.8° C), the child has a fever.
Tympanic digital thermometers are quick in measuring body temperatures (takes less than 2 seconds) and causes no discomfort to children. The proper position of taking
the temperature is to pull the ear back and up to straighten the auditory canal. The child has a fever if the tympanic temperature is 100.4 F° (38.0° C) or higher.
Axillary thermometers provide less accurate readings and are slower in taking body
temperatures. The armpit must be dry when taking the temperature and the probe
must be covered when the armpit is closed for 4 to 5 minutes or until the digital infrared thermometer beeps. If the armpit temperature is above 99.0° F (37.2° C), the child has a fever.
In the management of fever in children, readings that yield high temperatures are
alarming. First-aid interventions must be done at home when fever has been
identified in the first few minutes.
Constant checking of the vital status of the child is also important. Refer the child to a doctor when the: (a) child exhibits an elevation of temperature from the normal temperature values; (b) fever has been for more than a day; (c) fever has accompanying symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea; (d) fever triggers a seizure; (e) child shows signs of
dehydration (dry mouth, crying without tears, sunken soft spot); (f) child has
a rash; and (g) provider thinks the child needs medical attention.
Amazon.com is a great source for comparing infrared thermometers.