Whilst doing some research for my latest foray into the fascinating world of thermometers (don’t laugh – it is my world), I found another story that amused and disturbed me in equal measure.
Apparently a father, who suspected his poorly young son was developing a fever decided, quite understandably, to take the little fella’s temperature. So far so good!
So he decides to use an infrared ear thermometer he finds in the medicine cabinet. Everything still good! These are a reliable choice for measuring body temperature. But…
Unfortunately due to the fact he was a) a man or b) a little on the simple side, he didn’t read the instructions.
The poor child then had the thermometer inserted into an orifice where it was probably least welcome – er, that’s his bum for those of you who are unsure to where I am referring.
What does this anecdote tell us?
- Unless all other options are unavailable, never leave a man alone with a sick baby
- Always read the instructions
- If in doubt, read the instructions again
- If still in doubt seek professional (or at the very least sane) help
Infrared thermometers are intended to be non-contact, non invasive instruments.
Having a thermometer shaped a bit like a hand gun stuck where the sun don’t shine must register near the top of anyone’s idea of invasive contact!
Now for the informative stuff:
Body temperature can be monitored with infrared ear thermometers, which measure the infrared energy emitted from the patient’s eardrum. A short tube with a protective sleeve is inserted into the ear, and a shutter is opened to allow radiation from the tympanic membrane to fall on an infrared detector for a period which is typically from 0.1 to 0.3 seconds in the varieties surveyed. The device beeps when data collection is completed and a read out of temperature is produced on an LCD screen.
This kind of temperature reading from the eardrum has been found to be a clinically reliable indicator of body core temperature. The eardrum is located close to the hypothalmus, which is the body’s temperature regulator. The membrane itself is thin and almost transparent in the visible, so you would presume that it reliably tracks the temperature inside the membrane so that the infrared energy it emits gives a good indication of the inside temperature.
All joking aside, most ear thermometers are extremely simple to use, and have a single button operation.
You just place the thermometer tube in the ear opening and press the button. When the thermometer beeps, the monitoring is complete and the reading is displayed.
Temperature measurement range is usually between around 34°C and 42°C. Most instruments are supplied with a set of replaceable probe tip covers for hygiene reasons.
Just remember to read those instructions…