Dump the Mercury Thermometer: Here’s How to Take Your Temperature

Virtual Visit
Print icon

When it comes to COVID-19, gauging your temperature by touching the back of your hand to your forehead just isn’t going to cut it.

Fever is one of the signs of the virus but, even beyond COVID-19, knowing your body’s temperature is an important way to manage any illness.

The body’s normal temperature is 98.6 degrees fahrenheit, but it can vary by a degree or two from one person to another. Fevers – an adult body temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher — are typically caused by infections and signal your body is trying to fight off the infection.

To take your temperature, you don’t need to have a fancy temporal artery device for scanning the forehead like they do in physician offices and hospitals. A digital thermometer found at the pharmacy or supermarket works just fine. For infants and children under four, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a rectal thermometer.

To get an accurate temperature with a digital thermometer, the AAP suggests these options:

  • By mouth. Insert the thermometer’s probe under your tongue and close your lips over it tightly to hold it in place. Leave it in your mouth for three minutes or until it beeps.
  • In the armpit (also called the axillary method). Place the probe end of the thermometer in your armpit and press your arm tightly over it, holding it against your body. Wait five minutes. This method is less accurate than oral.

Experts suggest adding a degree to readings found through these methods. Rectal thermometers are most accurate while oral and axillary readings are half to one degree lower.

If it’s been a while since you’ve used a thermometer at home and pull a glass one containing mercury from the medicine cabinet, do not use it. We now know the mercury is poisonous. Call your local Department of Public Works because mercury is considered hazardous waste and cannot be thrown in the trash.

Also, for an accurate temperature, do not use plastic strip thermometers or those run by apps on your smartphone.

When using a thermometer, it’s important to clean it first with cool, soapy water and rubbing alcohol. Repeat the cleaning afterward.

Fever is only one of the symptoms of COVID-19.

“This novel coronavirus causes a respiratory illness manifested by fever, cough and difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, chief of infectious diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.

 


What's New

Masks Work!

COVID-19 Immunity After Infection? Like the Virus, Uncertainties Remain

With the focus on tragic results of many coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, it’s easy to overlook that the majority of people do recover from the disease. What’s unclear, however, is if those people who recover are then immune to reinfection. “The literature is not clear on immunity, or how long immunity...

Medical Marijuana

Why Chronic Pain Added to State’s Medical Marijuana Qualifying List

In an attempt to help people who struggle daily with chronic pain, a state regulatory committee recently added it as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. “A lot of people live with pain,” said Dr. Andrew Salner, director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital and a member of...

Marleine St. Juste

Center for Healthy Aging Services Now Available at St. Vincent’s

The resource coordinator at Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging’s new location at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport is assisting employees and their loved ones by telephone and email in connecting with supportive services to achieve the optimum quality of life. During the pandemic, Marleine St. Juste’s assessments determine...

Restaurant Regulations

How to Report a Business Violating State’s COVID-19 Safety Requirements

A restaurant, hotel, hair salon or any other business violating Connecticut’s safety rules as the state reopens during COVID-19 threatens the health of your community. If you see a violation, fill out a Reopen CT Online Complaint Form (click here). The electronic form is considered public information, but you can...

Nick Kalogeros

The Wait Ends, Dramatically, for Glastonbury Kidney Transplant Recipient

For more than two decades, Nicholas Kalogeros of Glastonbury has known kidney failure and end-stage renal disease were inevitable without a transplant. A rare genetic disease, Alport syndrome, that damages small blood vessels in the kidney and eventually causes organ failure left Kalogeros on peritoneal dialysis the past year as...

Charcoal Grill

Don’t Get Burned This Summer: It’s This Simple

Summer is synonymous with barbecues, fireworks and fun in the sun. With it comes an uptick in burn cases to hospital Emergency Departments (ED) everywhere. Most are preventable. With the proper care and attention, a trip to the ED is avoidable. “Our skin’s function is to protect the body from...