Checking your body’s temperature is one of the best ways to measure your general wellbeing, and yet there seems to be a generation of people who are neglecting this helpful diagnostic test. Today, we will cover what it is, how to do it, and what your next steps should be.
What is it?
Monitoring your internal body temperature is the attempt to ascertain whether your vital organs - brain, heart, etc - are running at a higher or lower temperature than might be expected. Adults should be sitting somewhere between 36 and 37 degrees celsius. If you are anywhere beneath 35.7, you are at risk of developing hypothermia. If you are somewhere between 37.5 and 38.5, you are running a slight fever. If you are beyond this, you need to seek urgent medical attention. You will know that you have a fever if you a combination of the following:
- - Profuse sweating
- - A general feeling of weakness or fatigue
- - Aches and shakes
- - A headache
- - Chills
- - Irritability
- - Chattering teeth
- - Feeling unusually hot
If you have some of these symptoms don’t ignore them. It could be an indicator of a number of different things:
- Common cold
- A urinary tract infection
- Ear infections
Obviously, this ranges from the life threatening to the mildly uncomfortable. If you are ever in doubt, contact a health professional immediately.
How can I take my temperature?
There are four main ways that you can check for a temperature. All of them will require a thermometer of some sort.
- Firstly, you can check your temperature by inserting a thermometer into your rectum. Unsurprisingly, this is not an overly popular choice. It can often be cold, uncomfortable, inserted too far, or slow. No one needs a chilly stick sticking out of their behind for three minutes while it registers your temperature. That said, it is a fairly accurate measure because it is genuinely getting to your internal body temperature. There is a price you pay for precision…
- Secondly, there is the mouth. Make sure you don’t try this directly after trying the rectal method, or you might have a few other illnesses to reckon with in the next 24 hours. Leave the thermometer under your tongue until the device beeps. It is fairly straightforward and unobtrusive, yet it isn’t as accurate as other methods. The temperature of your mouth can fluctuate, so it is worth taking the result with a pinch of (figurative) salt.
- Thirdly, there is the armpit. Aside from possibly being a little bit chilly, this is a fairly comfortable option, and for this reason, it can work well with kids who might struggle with an oral thermometer. As you might expect, there is a greater margin for error, so you often need to wait 5 minutes or more to find your core temperature. It is the most external means, and is therefore the most susceptible to environmental factors.
- Finally, there is the ear. This is the perfect balance between ease and accuracy, and the Omron Ear Thermometer has been a popular choice for a number of years for this reason. Because the eardrum shares the same blood supply as the brain, it actually returns a startlingly accurate reading of your internal body temperature through the in ear method. The Omron Ear Thermometer also reacts quickly to drastic and sudden changes in temperature, so you can be ahead of the curve if your health begins a sudden decline.
What should I do next?
This depends on whether the fever is moderate or severe, and whether you are an adult or a child. If the child is less than 12 months old and has a temperature of 38 degrees, go to the emergency room ASAP. For everyone else, there are a number of things you can do to offset the effects of your fever.
- Drink plenty of fluids. When you begin to develop a fever, your body starts depleting vital sources of water from your cells. You also tend to lose a lot by sweating, coughing, sneezing or through diarrhea. It is usually a good idea to stick to water, tea or hydrolites. Alcohol will only make matters worse.
- Stay cool. The old ‘wisdom’ of trying to sweat out a fever is deeply counterproductive. It stems from the misconception that the sweat itself was somehow making you sick and if you could get rid of all the contaminated sweat, you would be all better. In reality, all you are doing is dehydrating yourself. Instead wear light clothing and avoid heavy doonas and avoid sitting in heated rooms.
- Get some solid rest. Your blood cells are needed to fight the infection that has caused the fever, and if you exercise too strenuously, you are diverting blood cells away from the illness. Imagine your blood as the infantry fighting Godzilla. Exercising is like talking half of the frontline and getting them to march in a parade on the other side of town. Not a bad idea any other time of the year, but when Godzilla is tearing apart some skyscrapers, the infantry has bigger fish to fry.
- Avoid cold baths. Your skin will react by constricting all of your blood vessels. All this does is trap the heat inside your body and leave you worse than before. Instead, try sponging yourself with lukewarm water and standing in front of a fan.
- Manage the pain with anti-inflammatories. A pairing of paracetamol and ibuprofen is a great option here because they work differently and pose no danger being taken together. Ibuprofen goes directly to the source of the pain and combats the inflammation that is causing you the headache, aches and shakes. Paracetamol heads to your brain and begins dulling the pain receptors so that you have no idea that you’re uncomfortable. It is a match made in heaven.
Check your temperature. It could give you insight as to why you feel average, and cut down the duration of the illness. Or, it could be the first sign of a serious health crisis. It can be the early warning sign that makes all the difference.