Flu, Fever Detection Facts For Dr. Mom

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Cold and flu season is upon us, affecting tens of millions of adults and children each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A cold is rarely serious but flu can lead to complications, especially in children and the elderly. Early detection is key, especially since new anti-viral drugs must be given within two days of the infection's onset.

Although the symptoms of cold and flu are similar, a person suffering from the flu will be house-bound, with general malaise, headache, body aches and a dry, unproductive cough. The leading indicator of flu, however, is a high temperature. For this reason, getting an accurate temperature reading has never been more important.

There are a number of thermometers available to test for fever, but not all are as accurate or easy to use as a temporal artery thermometer, such as the Exergen TemporalScanner. Temporal artery thermometers work by measuring heat emitted from the skin over the temporal artery. This artery runs along the forehead and is directly connected to the heart by the carotid artery. The original temporal artery thermometer technology was developed by Harvard researcher Francesco Pompei, Ph.D.

All it takes is a gentle two-second swipe of the Exergen TemporalScanner over the forehead to determine if a person has a fever. Two dozen independent medical studies attest to its accuracy, including accuracy comparable to temperature taken with a rectal thermometer -- long the standard for accuracy, especially in children. Temporal artery scanners are quickly becoming the thermometer of choice in doctors' offices and hospitals across the country.

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In addition to their speed, temporal artery thermometers are also noninvasive as they do not need to be inserted into any body cavity. A parent can even quickly and easily check the temperature of a sleeping child and know the temperature they receive is as accurate as with any other method. Also, these thermometers do not rely on toxic mercury for gauging temperature. Mercury-filled glass bulb thermometers have already been banned in many municipalities around the country.

Temperature Guidelines for Dr. Mom

It's important to note that different types of thermometers (arterial, oral, axillary or under-the-arm and rectal) will give varied temperature readings. Even if the same type of thermometer used consecutively, slightly varied recordings will be noted. This is no cause for alarm. Arterial temperature measurement, such as the one recorded by temporal artery thermometers, leads all other methods in identifying fever and is unaffected by patient activity. Accordingly, it will be sometimes different -- but correct.

Normal Body Temperature (BT): Normal BT is not a single temperature, but a range of temperatures influenced by age, time of day and the measurement site.

General Rule of Thumb: On a stable, resting patient, rectal temperature is approximately 2 o F (1 o C) higher than axillary and 1 o F (0.5 o C) higher than oral temperature. On a stable, resting patient, arterial temperature is approximately the same as rectal temperature.

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