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Ear Thermometer Accuracy

Ear Thermometer Accuracy

Although ear thermometer is easy to operate and can record the readings within seconds, ear thermometer accuracy has always been controversial. Let's discuss its working and its controversial results.
Niharika Arya
Whenever you or your loved ones are down with fever, you quickly want to know the temperature to get a proper treatment on time. For this you use a thermometer. There are many different types of thermometers available in the market. One of the most recently introduced thermometer is the ear thermometer which is also known as tympanic thermometer. Although ear thermometer accuracy is under lots of controversies, many people go for this new electronic device as it is easy to handle and you can get the result within seconds. It is mostly used on babies as it has become an alternative for the rectal thermometer. Although, doctors always prefer rectal thermometers because of its great accuracy.

How does an Ear Thermometer Works?
Ear thermometer is an electronic device. It is inserted inside the ear of the patient and a button is pressed. The measurement is taken through the infra-red light which falls on the tympanic membrane or the eardrum and calculates its temperature. Once done, thermometer will give a beep to confirm that the reading has been taken. You can check the reading within few seconds. It is always advised to take 2 to 3 readings to get accuracy. Many ear thermometers can store up to 8 readings in their memory. The reading may also vary from one ear to the other. It is not considered to be as accurate as the rectal and other oral thermometer. It is very necessary to use it properly to get accurate readings. You can get some of the best ear thermometers in the market which are easy to use and can help you in finding the readings more accurately and quickly.

Ear Thermometer Accuracy
Accuracy of ear thermometer is under lots of controversies. The manufacturing companies are of the view that it is accurate if used properly but many doctors and experts advise not to trust the reading of an ear thermometer. Hospital grade ear thermometer are believed to be more accurate than the once used at home. Baby rectal thermometer is more accurate than the baby ear thermometer. It has been noticed by the experts that an ear thermometer reading varies from 1 to 2 degrees below or above the temperature calculated by the rectal or other oral thermometers or it can even vary more. Even 1 or 2 degrees of temperature change from the readings observed in the thermometer can be serious specially in case of small kids. Researches show that the ear thermometer readings in adults may also vary to a great extent. The problem here is the same. It is better to examine the temperature with some other oral thermometer which can give you more accurate readings than the ear thermometer.

Drawbacks of Ear Thermometer
Ear thermometer or infra-red ear thermometer cannot be considered completely trustworthy. Following are some of the drawbacks of ear thermometer which will help you to understand the problems related to this measuring device.
  • Ear thermometer is very expensive as compared to the other oral thermometers.
  • The temperature measured by an ear thermometer always varies 1 to 2 degree above or below the exact temperature.
  • It can give false reading if the patient is suffering from ear infection.
  • Earwax can also alter the temperature reading. So it is very important to clear the wax before taking the temperature.
  • As the technology is new, many people are unable to operate it properly which may result in incorrect readings.
  • If the thermometer is not placed properly inside the ear the outer temperature may affect the reading.
  • One reading will not be sufficient as you may get variable readings in all the three or four times you measure the temperature.
  • The readings may vary if you switch the side of the ear. Which means you will observe different reading from the left and right ear. So you need to take all the readings from the same side.
Usually people feel uncomfortable to use rectal thermometers on kids, so, they opt and trust digital ear thermometer. But the fact is, accurate reading in babies can be taken only with the help of rectal thermometer. In adults also, it is advisable to use other oral thermometers instead of the ear thermometer. So, next time when you go to buy a thermometer, keep the above things in mind and opt for the best one. If you want an ear thermometer, then strictly follow the instruction given in the manual so as to get the correct readings. After all, health is more important than anything else.