Some mothers can tell if a child is running a fever just by putting a hand on his forehead. However, for those lacking this talent, there are a variety of instruments at hand to help determine body temperature. Some of these instruments can be found at home, while others are more likely to be found in a doctor's office or hospital.
When people think of a thermometer, they may think of the traditional glass thermometer placed in the mouth. Today, most oral thermometers are digital and made of some sort of plastic. These are used by placing the thermometer under the tongue and waiting for the alert that the reading is complete. Some oral thermometers can also be used as rectal thermometers.
Tympanic thermometers are used by inserting the thermometer into the ear. The thermometer has a cone shaped to fit inside the ear canal. However, according to Consumer Reports, this type of thermometer is not accurate in young children and must be perfectly aligned to get an accurate temperature.
Forehead, or temporal, thermometers take a temperature reading through an infrared scan of the temporal artery in the forehead. Some temporal thermometers work through rolling the scanner over the forehead, calculating the temperature based on the heat detected.
A basal thermometer is used by women tracking ovulation through changes in temperature. It is an extremely sensitive thermometer that records temperatures to 0.1 degree Fahrenheit increments, rather than 0.2 degree Fahrenheit increments.
Another option for young children is the pacifier thermometer. This thermometer is shaped like a pacifier and after your child sucks on it for about 90 seconds, an oral temperature is taken.