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MEASUREMENT OF TEMPERATURE

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Temperature can be measured by several methods, including the mercury thermometer, the liquid crystal thermometer and the electronic probe thermometer. The mercury thermometer, however, is probably still the most widely used and effective temperature-measuring instrument. Table 18.1 gives a basic guide to interpreting the temperature values obtained.

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Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 18.1

Interpretation of temperature measurement

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Basic rules of usage
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  1. Before use, shake down to 35–36°C.

  2. After use:

    • shake down and store in antiseptic

    • do not run under hot water

    • wipe rectal thermometers with alcohol and store separately.

  3. Recording time is 3 minutes orally, 1 to 2 minutes rectally.

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Oral use

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  1. Place under the tongue at the junction of the base of the tongue and the floor of the mouth to one side of the frenulum—the ‘heat pocket’.

  2. Ensure that the mouth is kept shut.

  3. Remove dentures.

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Note: Unsuitable for children 4 years and under, especially if irritable.

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Rectal use

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An excellent route for babies and young children under the age of 4.

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Method
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  1. Lubricate the stub with petroleum jelly.

  2. Insert for 2–3 cm (1 inch).

  3. Keep the thermometer between the flexed fingers with the hand resting on the buttocks (Fig. 18.1).

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Don't
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  • Dig thermometer in too hard.

  • Hold it too rigidly.

  • Allow the child to move around.

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Axillary use

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Very unreliable, and generally should be avoided but it is practical for young chidren and gives a helpful guide. If used it should be placed high in the axilla for 3 minutes.

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Groin use

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This route is not ideal but is more reliable than the axilla. It closely approximates oral temperature.

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In infants, the thigh should be flexed against the abdomen.

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Vaginal use

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Mainly used as an adjunct to the assessment of ovulation during the menstrual cycle. Should be placed deeply in the vagina for 5 minutes before leaving the bed in the morning.

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INFRARED AURAL (EAR DRUM) USE

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The temperature can be measured in 3 seconds with an infrared device placed in the ear canal (e-2 therm). There is much debate about its efficacy but it appears to be worthwhile as it is a simple method and in general practice the benefits of convenience outweigh possible lack of ...

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