How to Use Rectal Thermometer?

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After arriving at the hospital, what is the first thing your doctor checks? We guess it is the body temperature, regardless of the degree of your sickness or discomfort.

Because a deviation in temperature often indicates there is something not right inside your system. And you probably have a thermometer at home, especially if you have a baby less than three years of age.

There are various types of thermometers available; however, rectal thermometers have the most reliable results for infants. So, how to use rectal thermometer?

Well, take a look at the guide; we think you will agree that taking your child to the doctor every time he or she needs their temperature taken is impractical. And you never know when something would go wrong with a baby.

Different Types of Temperatures

Nowadays, there are various thermometers, including the traditional mercury to the most modern digital ones. And when it comes to medical use and measuring body temperature, classification is done based on how the reading is taken. So, let’s have a look at the types.

Oral Temperature

Mercury or a digital thermometer is used to take the oral temperature. The tip is positioned under the tongue at the back of the mouth.

Hold the thermometer securely with your lips and finger for about three minutes. And if you are using a digital device, hold until it beeps.

Rectal Temperature

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Typically, taking an adult’s rectal temperature is not ideal. It can be used for children under four or aging adults who are sick.

To measure the rectal temperature, you can use a digital or glass thermometer. The tip is placed into the rectal opening, but put water-based lubricant on the thermometer’s tip first. Please put it in position for about 3 minutes or until it beeps. Make sure you clean it properly after use.

Tympanic Temperature

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Tympanic temperatures are less accurate than oral and rectal measurements. The thermometer measures the temperature by measuring the eardrum heat waves. While the instrument causes the least discomfort, it’s not recommended for infants.

You can have the readings within 2 seconds of placing the thermometer in any ear canal. Again, they are not very accurate.

Axillary Temperatures

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You can take these readings by placing the thermometer under the armpits. Just put the thermometer under your arm and hold it for five minutes. If you are using a digital instrument, hold it until it beeps.

This method of measurement is suitable for any age. However, it is used only for screening, as it’s also not the most accurate. So, if the temperature shows above average, take an oral or rectal temperature to be sure.

Temporal Artery Temperature

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Temporal artery temperature, otherwise known as forehead temperature, is measured either by a thermometer strip or a digital device. While strips are easier and safer than other methods for kids, they are not very reliable and are not recommended for screening.

The thermometer reads the temperature of the temporal artery that carries blood from the heart. You need to place the device’s sensor at the middle of the forehead and glide it across toward the ear’s top. Make sure the sensor is in skin contact.

How to Use Rectal Thermometer?

You can use a glass or digital thermometer for measuring rectal temperatures. If you are using a glass one, make sure it is a rectal thermometer with a round tip. While doctors suggest that this device type gives the most accurate reading, it’s not suitable for adults and children over four. Also, it is used when getting the most accurate result is necessary.

Check below how to use a rectal thermometer.

  • Prepare the Thermometer

Before using the device, clean the tip with alcohol or soap water. You can use an alcohol pad to rub the digital one. For easier insertion, use petroleum jelly or water-based lubricant on the tip of the thermometer.

  • Place Your Baby

Make sure your baby is calm and put him/her on the bed or your lap facing down, on his/her belly. You can also position him/her face-up, holding his legs with your hand.

  • Put It Place

To insert it with ease, first, separate his buttocks with your hand. Then insert the petroleum jelly coated tip into the rectal opening. Be as gentle as possible, and do not insert it more than 1 inch. If you face any resistance, stop immediately.

Hold the thermometer pointed towards his belly button with one hand, and with the other hand, comfort your child so that (s)he does not move. Keep it in position until the beep, or 2-3 minutes if you use a glass thermometer. Then remove it gently and read the measurement.

  • Clean It Afterward

After use, clean the tip again with alcohol and let it dry before storing it.

Oral Thermometer vs. Rectal Thermometer

Oral devices can be glass ones or digital ones. In the case of glass ones, the way of temperature measurement is the same for oral and rectal. However, for easy identification and use, the tip shapes are kept different.

An oral glass instrument comes with a stubby or elongated tip to have a larger surface area exposed. And it has a blue-colored stem for quicker and accurate identification.

A rectal one, on the other hand, comes with a slightly rounded and shorter tip. The shape helps in the safer and easier insertion of it inside the rectum. An elongated tip would likely injure the rectal walls.

Digital oral and rectal devices come with only different colored probes, with the same size, shape, and mechanism.

While the doctors take the rectal temperatures as the most reliable readings in situations where accuracy is most needed, it’s often not recommended for adults.

We cannot stress the point enough, but never use a rectal device orally and vice versa.

Final Words

Knowing how to use rectal thermometer is indeed essential because it gives the most accurate body temperature. It’s not that difficult to use but make sure you follow the right method while using it on your baby. Reading through our comprehensive guide, you can quickly adopt the technique for safer application.

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