Digital Thermometers: Yay or Nay?

Digital Thermometers: Yay or Nay?

The wide range of thermometers are available right now in the market might induce confusion, especially among those desperate parents who want things as simple as possible. Basically, these days, you can choose from: classical, digital, oral, rectal, axial and etc.

Anyway, so many choices for those mommies who, at the end of the day, they just want a God damn efficient thermometer able to get the job done as quick and as precise as possible.

Therefore, we are going to try through this article, to come up with a guide with the pros and cons of the most popular models.

Digital Thermometers: Yay or Nay?

Digital or Old-School Thermometer?

The first part of our article requires these very obvious questions:

  • The digital thermometer or the classic one?
  • Which one is better?
  • Which results are the most precise?
  • Why does so much the accuracy of a thermometer matter?

These are just a few of the aspects that we will talk about in the following minutes.

The Classic/Old School Thermometer: Pros & Cons

The classic mercury thermometer is one of the most commonly used instruments in terms of measuring body temperature across the planet. However, many health experts warn people on the negative effects this type of thermometer may have, even being banned in most European countries.

Imagine what happens when a very young child puts a mercury thermometer in his mouth and accidentally breaks it. Certainly, the effects of mercury would be devastating, being one of the most toxic substances known on this Earth.

However, ignoring its toxicity, the mercury thermometer is one of the most accurate measuring instruments, with an error of only 0.1-0.01 degrees Celsius.

On the other hand, there are other types of classical thermometers, such as those filled with alcohol, liquid crystals or Galanthus, which appeared at the end of the 20th century.

However, none of these types are as precise as the one that contains mercury, but they are, however, much safer.

The Digital Thermometer: Pros & Cons

The digital thermometer, although created and patented in 1973, on January 5, began to gain popularity in the early 1990’s when several campaigns which promoted the dangers of using mercury instruments were carried out.

Thus, today, two types of thermometers are present in almost every single household: contact and infrared.

The contact uses an electronic sensor placed exactly where the temperature has to be read, while the infrared thermometer uses a sensor that emits weak radiation to the desired point.

Regarding the risks, infrared thermometers are the safest, as no contact with the person reading the temperature is required.

This eliminates the risk of infections, diseases and so on. In addition, regarding the precision side, infrared thermometers are quite safe, measuring temperature as well as mercury, with a resolution of 0.1 degrees Celsius.

In fact, between 2000 and 2001, the largest increase in sales of digital thermometers was generated by the same informative campaigns.

Today, it is estimated that over 75% of all people around the globe use a digital thermometer.

Medical thermometers, depending on the measurement location

Besides the way of measuring the temperature, the medical thermometer models are also classified according to the measuring location.

Thus, there are digital thermometers specially designed to measure body temperature in the ear, oral or anal cavity.

Although the temperature collected from the rectum provides the most reliable results, in recent years, a tool has been developed to measure body temperature with a superficial temporal artery, and the results are highly promising.

You should carefully read the prospectus, because some thermometers have applied the temperature correction from the start, depending on the measuring area.

In others, however, you need to lower or add different values above the displayed one, depending on the measured location.

Which measurement location offers the most accurate results?

The most common body temperature measurement area is undoubtedly the armpit.

In the past, it was believed to offer the best results on body temperature because it was the area least exposed to additional environmental factors such as saliva from the mouth and etc.

But, unfortunately, this analogy is simply wrong because, in reality, the temperature measured from the armpit is actually providing the most unsafe results.

Although, for example, in the oral cavity, saliva plays a crucial role in the temperature displayed by the thermometer, it is good to know that often displays the same measure as that of the body.


Long story short, the most important thing that we have to implement in our minds is the fact that a thermometer MUST provide the best and safest results regarding the body temperature.

We all know that body temperature should oscillate between 36.5 and 37.2 degrees Celsius, and what goes beyond this threshold is called hyperthermia.

We can feel the symptoms of fever even at 37.5 – 38 degrees Celsius, so the difference is quite small, the resolution of a thermometer must be no higher than 0.1 degrees Celsius.

Fortunately, today most thermometers are manufactured with non-toxic substances and what makes the digital ones more attractive is the fact that results appear very fast, they are super easy to use.

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