8 Best At-Home Thermometers to Monitor Coronavirus Symptoms
Safely and accurately monitor Covid-19 symptoms, like a fever, with these best at-home thermometers, for children and adults.
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Best at-home thermometers to track fever
With cases Covid-19 on the rise in the United States, you're doing your part to watch for symptoms and flatten the curve. One of the major signs to look for is a fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Covid-19 usually starts with a low-grade fever (e.g., 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit)," says Luke Padwick, MD, emergency room physician and founder and CEO of Austin Emergency Centers.
Checking your own temperature at home can help you gauge your symptoms and decide whether to call a doctor or try to get tested. If you believe you have been exposed to Covid-19, the CDC recommends checking your own temperature twice a day, morning and night, for 14 days.
Thermometers have come a long way from mercury-encased-in-glass. Newer thermometers provide instant readings and often come with add-ons like cell phone apps and Bluetooth capability. (Due to the risk of breakage, mercury thermometers are no longer recommended, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics—AAP.)
The CDC recommends an age-appropriate thermometer, such as an ear thermometer, for infants and children under age four. You can also use a regular thermometer and place it at the center of the child's armpit (the armpit method). Other body temperature measurement methods, aside from the mouth, include the forehead and the rectum. However, if you're using the armpit method, the reading can be more than a degree lower than the actual measurement.
"A fever is your body's normal response to fighting infection and means that your immune system is working properly," says Georgine Nanos, MD, a board-certified family physician specializing in epidemiology and chief executive officer of Kind Health Group, a company offering aesthetic care in Encinitas, California. "The actual number is less concerning than the surrounding symptoms and cause."
If your temperature is consistently above 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, monitor for other symptoms, including body aches and pains, severe muscle aches and a dry cough, says Shahinaz Soliman, MD, a family physician and owner of Soliman Care Family Practice Center in Torrance, California.
Dr. Soliman adds, "If you have a combination of symptoms, call your primary care doctor if he/she is open and he/she will advise on the next steps." However, if your primary care doctor is not available, she advises, call the emergency room before going there. "Usually I tell patients to stay home and rest for 14 days and if anything gets worse, to let me know. If their symptoms worsen, I have them come in and stay in the car and I go out to the car and do the test."
As Covid-19 continues to spread, there is limited availability of at-home thermometers, and any online orders could be delayed. But, if you're still in need of a thermometer, check out the following eight at-home thermometers for children and for adults that are all highly-rated; many are used by doctors themselves. Some of these may also be available at stores near you, so check availability.
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Kinsa Smart Ear thermometer
Ear thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure inside the ear canal, according to Nursing2020, a peer-reviewed journal. The Kinsa Smart Ear thermometer is a Food and Drug Administration-cleared thermometer that provides readings within one second in either degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius. It features a Bluetooth connection to the Kinsa app with personalized guidance based on age, temperature, and symptoms. "Bluetooth features would be helpful if you need to maintain a digital record and this would also allow you to share this data with your doctor during a virtual or telemedicine visit," explains Dr. Nanos.
Vicks Comfort Flex Thermometer with Fever InSight
Able to provide readings both orally and rectally, the waterproof Vicks Comfort Flex Thermometer provides readings within 8 seconds for adults. It's also able to remember and display the last temperature given. Plus, it's slightly bendy and flexible for comfort (hence the name), regardless of where the temperature is taken.
Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer with ExacTemp Technology
One of the most widely-used at-home thermometers, the Braun ThermoScan features a pre-warmed tip and a disposable lens filter. This means you can hygienically measure multiple people in a row, as well as ensure earwax doesn't affect accuracy—and an LED screen for easy readings. It's also possible to recall the last temperature taken, making it easier to monitor progress with multiple readings throughout the day. Dr. Soliman favors Braun, adding, "I like my patients to use a thermometer that has memory recall so I can compare their temperature over time."
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Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer
"In infants and young children, the most reliable temp is in the rectum since they can't usually cooperate with an oral thermometer," explains Dr. Nanos. (While the AAP recommends measuring babies through toddlers up to age three through the rectum, you can start taking oral temperatures at age four). Try the Vicks baby rectal thermometer on littlest members of the family, which has a short tip that ensures gentle insertion and a 10-second read.
Exergen Comfort Scanner Temporal Thermometer
An extremely popular choice for all ages, the Exergen Comfort Scanner Temporal Thermometer, works within seconds to provide a forehead-based temperature check. A simple swipe measures the skin's heat over the temporal artery. It's able to take 1,000 readings per second and display it accurately. Plus, find out whether you can take ibuprofen for a Covid-19 fever.
Summer Infant Pacifier Digital Thermometer
Another clever option for babies, the Summer Infant Pacifier Digital Thermometer, is a temperature checker doubling as a pacifier. With an orthodontic nipple, the glowing Fever Alert feature indicates in low-light when extra caution is warranted. It also contains memory to help keep track of the fever's progress. This option is an easy-to-use and inexpensive option for worried parents.
iProven Forehead and Ear Thermometer
An incredibly easy to use thermometer, the iProven can conveniently take temperatures in either the ear or on the forehead. However, it's important to keep in mind that temporal (forehead) thermometers are not necessarily as accurate as digital or oral, says Dr. Nanos. The thermometer provides a one-second reading with infrared scan lens technology. There's also a version specifically for babies, which includes a fever alarm and the option of recalling the last 20 readings.
FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Rectal Thermometer
Baby- and parent-care company FridaBaby has made a name for themselves with the NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator and the Windi Gas and Colic Reliever—two items considered "must-haves" for infant parents. They also have expanded into thermometers with the FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Rectal Thermometer. The thermometer delivers a read in 10 seconds, stores up to 10 previous readings, offers a backlight for checks in the dark, and features a rectal-insertion stopper to ensure parents don't go too far.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Symptoms of Coronavirus”
- Luke Padwick, MD, MS, emergency room doctor, and founder and chief executive officer of Austin Emergency Centers
- CDC: “Public Health Recommendations after Travel-Associated COVID-19 Exposure”
- American Academy of Pediatrics: “Thermometer Use 101”
- CDC: “Check and Record Everyday”
- Georgine Nanos, MD, MPH, a board-certified family physician specializing in epidemiology and chief executive officer of Kind Health Group, a company that offers aesthetic care, Encinitas, California
- Shahinaz Soliman, MD, owner of Soliman Care Family Practice Center in Torrance, California
- Nursing2020: “Using an ear thermometer”