Interactive Tool: How Do Temperatures Compare?

What does this tool help you learn?

This interactive tool allows you to compare temperatures taken by mouth (oral), anus (rectal), underarm (axillary), and ear (aural).

Temperature readings can vary depending on which method you use to take them. No tool can give an exact match for temperatures taken from different parts of the body. But you can use this tool as a general guide.

It's important to remember:

  • Each child has a normal temperature range that may be different from another child's.
  • Rectal temperatures are thought to be the most accurate way to check a young child's temperature.
  • The maker of the temperature device you use provides information on how to use it. Be sure to read and follow the instructions to get an accurate temperature.
Leduc D, et al. (2000, reaffirmed 2013). Temperature measurement in paediatrics. Canadian Paediatric Society Position Statement. Available online: http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/temperature-measurement.

What do the results tell you?

After you convert a body temperature from one method to another, you can more easily compare it to normal body temperature levels. You can find out if someone's temperature is too low (hypothermia) or too high (fever).

Children tend to have higher fevers than adults. Often you must look at your or your child's other symptoms to find out how serious the illness is.

What's next?

When you tell your doctor about a temperature measurement, be sure to say what method you used to take it.

For more information about how to take a temperature and how to treat fever, see:

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Leduc D, et al. (2000, reaffirmed 2013). Temperature measurement in paediatrics. Canadian Paediatric Society Position Statement. Available online: http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/temperature-measurement.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Current as of June 4, 2014

Current as of: June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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