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Study Says Rectal Thermometer is more Accurate at Measuring Body Temperature

Update Date: Nov 18, 2015 09:39 AM EST

A rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to measure body temperature, a new study concluded.

For this study, the researchers headed by Dr. Daniel Niven, an intensive care physician at the Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary, Canada set out to examine the effectiveness of peripheral (noninvasive) and (central) invasive methods of recording body temperature. He and his team looked at data gathered from 75 studies throughout the world that included more than 8,600 adult and child patients.

Peripheral thermometers measured temperatures at the armpit, mouth, ear and forehead. Central thermometers measured temperatures inside the body, at places such as the rectum or bladder, when used in a hospital setting.

The team found that peripheral thermometers could be off by as much as 1.5 degrees when compared to central thermometers. The researchers noted that finding the best way to record temperature is important because body temperature can inform doctors when something is not right especially if symptoms have not even surfaced. Body temperature can also inform doctors whether or not a certain medication is working and help them plan out a more efficient treatment course.

Niven added, via NPR, central thermometers provide "important opportunities to treat significant infections."

The researchers reported that when using peripheral thermometers, which are usually the case for the everyday person, measuring temperatures in the mouth or ear is more accurate then at the armpit or forehead area.

The study did not look at the effectiveness of these thermometers in infants and toddlers.

The study's findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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