Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Taking a temperature

Your child’s temperature will likely be taken many times during a hospital stay to check for a fever.

There are several ways to take temperatures: under the tongue, on the side of the forehead, or in the ear using a special type of thermometer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises to always use a digital thermometer, never a mercury thermometer. In fact, the AAP recommends that parents should remove mercury thermometers from their homes because mercury is poisonous.

• Digital thermometers can be purchased at any drug store and used under the tongue or under the arm. Some have an alarm that beeps when it is time to remove the thermometer.

• A temporal artery thermometer reads the infrared heat waves released by the temporal artery, which runs across the forehead just below the skin.

• Tympanic, or ear, thermometers measure infrared waves and are very easy to use. These require proper technique to be accurate, so keep the directions handy.

Before your child leaves the hospital, ask your doctor whether you should monitor for fever. Some fever medicines, including aspirin, can interfere with other drugs or cause complications. Find out from your doctor whether you should give medication for fever and how high the fever can go before you call.

After six-year-old Kurt’s hydrocele surgery, I had to take his temperature frequently for several days. He absolutely refused to have a thermometer in his mouth. It was just impossible, so we compromised and used a digital thermometer under his arm. He complied because he liked to hear the beep at the end.