Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is It Hot In Here or Is It Just Half of Me?

Now that we're officially not going to Wyoming this weekend (sigh) I'll admit that I really am sick. The fever, the runny nose, the constant coughing, the general malaise. Ugh. Didn't I just get over this? Moan.

Paul and I are sniffling and one-upping each other's misery, while the girls are happy and energetic as ever, albeit with the occasional runny nose. I'm trying to convince Paul to actually take a - gasp! - sick day from work tomorrow. He agrees to stay home, but is leaning toward calling it a "vacation day." A fever does not a vacation make, dear.

Anyway, we have a fairly nice Braun ear thermometer, purchased after Paul and I found ourselves consistently unable to get a reasonable reading for our daughters (read: anything above 96 degrees) using the classic digital armpit model.

But it doesn't seem all that consistent to me. Or, maybe it is and I'm just inconsistent. But if I really want sympathy, I'll take my temperature in my left ear, which is usually about a degree higher than my right ear.

Ellie's temps are often different enough that I take both and use the higher one when calling the doctor's office, though I never remember whether it's the same ear that's higher. (I chalk this up to her extraordinarily small ear canals, which are still - at age 4 - smaller than Ada's were as a newborn.) Ada's temps were normal today, each ear measuring within a couple of tenths of the other. Paul claims that his measurements are usually similarly consistent.

So, is it just me, or is this a common problem with ear thermometers?

8 comments:

Jonathon said...

Our pediatrician said that if one ear is infected the inflammation can cause the temp in that ear to be higher...

www.twolinesonastick.com

Angela said...

I once asked our pediatrician to recommend an ear thermometer. She told me that none of the "over the counter" brands are very effective beyond verifying if a child has a fever or not. She said to always go rectal if you can (ugh), under the tongue if the child can grasp the concept, or under the arm.

Sarahlynn said...

TLoaS, yikes! Well, I sure hope that I haven't been suffering from a painless ear infection for months. That can't be healthy.

Angela, I figured that might be the case; maybe I should look into getting one of those fancy-schmancy under-the-counter ear models.

Not one single over-the-counter digital thermometer has worked for us (digitally or under the arm) though I admit that I haven't attempted a rectal administration. Somehow, knowing the exact value of the fever has never been quite *that* important. (But my girls are relatively afebrile, so we've been very lucky so far.)

Orange said...

I find that the Braun ear thermometer usually backs up my kiss-on-forehead assessment.

I tend to believe the higher of the two ears, because supposedly the ear thermometers tend to undermeasure. Unless the ear in question has been pressed to a pillow, thereby reading extra-warm—then I believe the cooler ear's temp.

Tracey said...

We have a forehead model that is supposed to be accurate, and yet I don't believe it at all. I always come up around 96 degrees and I know I tend to run warm, so I have no words of wisdom. Rectal as a baby is one thing, but for a kid, oy, no thanks! :)

We have been very lucky and fevers have not been a big deal for us, we don't get the illnesses that come with fevers. Barfing yes, fevers no.

I'm sorry you are sick, being a mom and being sick is just not fun. And if Paul is like my sweetie, you have THREE children and not two. :)

IrrationalPoint said...

My experience with ear thermometers has been that it is difficult to get consistent/accurate readings. In my experience though, it very much depends on getting the angle of the thermometer right.

That said, we gave up using ear thermometers when I was ill and we were sure I was running a fever but the ear thermometer insisted I had hypothermia. If your kids can be pursuaded to sit still long enough, under the tongue is always best -- I think my parents used one with me from when I was about 4 years old, and under the arm before that age.

Hope you all feel better soon.

--IP

Beverly said...

My ear thermometer doesn't seem to work very well. I have stopped worrying about what the actual number is. I look at the kids and feel their foreheads. They've never seemed "out of it" enough for me to worry.
This is not medical advice, by the way. I am not a doctor and do not play one on TV.

Sarahlynn said...

You know what I miss? Mercury. Now, those were some reliable temperatures.

Forehead, underarm, under-tongue: nothing works well for me. I went through months and months of pre-Ellie morning basal body temp-taking where not once did I actually get a temperature consistent with most human life (unless maybe I really am just naturally about 95 degrees while all nice and snuggly warm under the comforter).