5 Mistakes You Might Be Making While Taking Body Temperature

Taking body temperature also requires taking care of some important things. Here are a few common mistakes that people make. Read on.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaPublished at: May 28, 2021Updated at: May 28, 2021
5 Mistakes You Might Be Making While Taking Body Temperature

Both flu season and Covid pandemic has made a lot of people paranoid about their health and well being. Checking the body temperature oxygen levels everyday has become a part of daily routine for many. Well, even taking the temperature should be done only when feeling low and there are a few things you should know to get the most accurate reading. An actual fever is a reading of 100.4 or higher, but you should know that everyone has a different baseline temperature.

Although, 98.6 degree fahrenheit is considered as the average measure, but that does not mean it is the only normal temperature reading. There are many factors including genetics, time of day, physical activity and diet, that can affect a temperature. Oral, rectal, ear, forehead, under the arm and even no-touch, there are several ways to check your body temperature. All of them work, to varying degrees. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Manjeetha Nath Das, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicines, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram, about the mistakes that you might be making while taking body temperature.

Mistakes that you might make while taking body temperature

For infants, most physicians still suggest  taking the body temperature rectally. Placing the thermometer under the tongue and arm are the traditional methods of checking temperature, but with technology and developments, these ways are being used lesser. According to Dr. Manjeetha, here are 5 mistakes that you might be making while taking body temperature:

1. Eating hot or cold foods

cold and hot foods

While checking the body temperature orally, it is important to make sure that you are not eating any hot or cold foods before taking the reading, as it can leave a huge impact. Wait atleast for 20 minutes after eating or drinking anything too hot or cold before you check your body temperature. Temperature fluctuates in the mouth from hot or cold foods and and drinks.

Also read: What Causes Extreme Body Temperature Fluctuations?

2. Poor timing

While taking temperature, even the time of the day should be considered for an accurate reading. It is recommended that people must try to take their body temperatures for approximately the same amount of time for every reading.

  • The right way to do it is to keep the thermometer under the tongue for five minutes. 
  • In case you keep it in for a longer period of time, the reading will continue to rise, which is due to the increased blood flow to the area from the mechanical action of the thermometer to the underside of the tongue.
  • The thermometer should be in the there for appropriate time, but not for too long.

3. Moving the tongue

Moving the tongue is a mistake that is mostly made by children. It is important to keep the tongue still while taking the temperature. Moving the tongue around while thermometer in the mouth causes temperature change that can lead to inaccurate results and low body temperature readings. It can seem difficult but it is best to keep the tongue still for atleast five minutes.

4. Using a mercury thermometer

no touch thermometer

Mercury thermometers are considered the most accurate, however, because of environmental morals, they are becoming less available in the pharmacies. Mercury is a very toxic element, and it is best to remove it from your house.

  • Make sure to throw away your old mercury thermometers correctly.
  • You should discard them to the nearest hazardous waste collection facility.

5. Using a digital thermometer

Digital thermometers can be less accurate sometimes, when the batteries are too low or when they have fallen down from a height as low as five inches. Digital thermometers are easy to use, but are not reliable to provide the exact precision in the reading.

These were some common mistakes that one might make while taking body temperature by Dr. Manjeetha Nath Das. He said, "The temperature should be taken underarm. Temperature that is 99 degree Fahrenheit and above while placing it underarm is considered as 'fever'. While checking orally, the temperature at 99 degree fahrenheit is normal. Mercury thermometer is best for underarm check. Digital thermometer can be used if mercury one is not available."

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