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Body temperature is a measure of how well your body can make and get rid of heat. You can take your temperature by using a thermometer. There are specific types to use in different parts of the body.
Most people have an average temperature of about 37°C (98.6°F). But "normal" varies from person to person. Your temperature also changes during the day. It's likely to be lowest in the early morning. And it's probably highest in the early evening. In most adults, an oral temperature above 38°C (100.4°F), or a rectal or ear temperature above 38.3°C (101°F), is considered a fever.
Before you take a temperature, read the instructions for how to use your type of thermometer.
Oral (by mouth) is the most common method of taking a temperature. For you to get an accurate reading, you must be able to breathe through your nose. If you can't, then use the rectum, ear, or armpit to take your temperature.
Close your lips tightly around it.
Rinse it off before you put it away.
The tip should be in the centre of the armpit.
Leave the thermometer there for as long as the instructions say.
An armpit temperature may be as much as 0.6°C (1°F) lower than an oral one.
If it's dirty, wipe it gently with a clean cloth. Do not put the thermometer in water.
Attach the disposable cover to the probe.
Centre the probe tip in the ear, and push gently inward toward your eardrum.
Forehead thermometers aren't as accurate as electronic and ear ones.
Then rinse it off before you put it away.
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Current as of: November 14, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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