Can you take your own temperature without a thermometer?
March 4, 2006 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Can you take your own temperature without a thermometer?

I'm sick. I went to the doctor several days ago and had a slight fever and I'm not sure if it's back, but i don't own a thermometer.

Anyone have any suggestions for tips on figuring out if I'm still "running hot"?
posted by chefscotticus to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Buy a thermometer. Accurate thermometers can be bought inexpensively at any drugstore.

I Am Not A Doctor but: symptoms of a *high* fever would typically include chills, and often as the fever breaks, a lot of sweating. Trouble is, those are going to be highly variable from person to person, and a slight fever might not cause them in anyone.

Buy a thermometer.
posted by enrevanche at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2006

Have another person feel your body temperature. For a fever that matters (more than 100 F) the differences in temperature will be obvious. Or buy a thermometer.

When you get a thermometer, it's important to note that mild variations away from 98.6F or 37C are common.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:16 PM on March 4, 2006

If it's a slight fever, even a buddy won't be able to tell with the classic "back of the hand to the forehead" technique. Spend the $5 for a thermometer--if you're housebound, get a friend to do it for you.
posted by availablelight at 12:19 PM on March 4, 2006

Well, if you think about it, the "hand to forehead" method works by measuring the relative temperature difference, so you won't really feel hot too yourself.

But why not buy a thermometer? They can't be more then $5 at walmart.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2006

If you feel feverish you probably are. If you really, really want to know your temperature you'll need a thermometer, but if your temperature it just slightly elevated it's probably not necessary. You could take an antipyretic (aspirin, acetaminophen/Tylenol, ibuprofen/Advil, etc) and if you don't feel warm after a while you probably did have a fever (and will again when it wears off most likely).

However, fevers are part of your body's normal immune response and probably shouldn't be treated other than with fluids and rest as long as they're not high. If your fever is high you will probably either know it by the way you feel or you'll be delirious. WebMD has a pretty good overview of fevers.

IANAD but I am a mom. Drink up and go back to bed.
posted by redheadeb at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2006

Most doctors I've been to handle "slight fever" with the standard fluids, rest and tylenol advice, unless there are other symptoms that are more serious.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2006

In fact, everybody's hand and forehead are likely to be at different temperatures all the time. Unless you live in Phoenix or Manaus or somewhere, your forehead will always feel hot to your hand. It's a blood flow thing. The canonical version of the forehead test requires that a healthy person whose hands are the same temperature simultaneously check yours and their own. Even then, temperature is going to vary with circadian rhythm, ovulatory status, basal metabolism, and so on, which means it's not very accurate. I suspect most of its value is in touch from a compassionate other. And the kinds of fever you need to worry about are obvious from the chills anyway.

Acetaminophen isn't an antipyretic, is it?
posted by eritain at 4:56 PM on March 4, 2006

The fast-and-dirty temperature check that kind-of works: put one hand on your forehead, and put the other on your chin at the same time. Then swap hands. If your forehead still feels hot, and significantly hotter than your chin, then there's probably something wrong and you should check by using a thermometer.
posted by Hogshead at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2006

Acetaminophen is antipyretic (and analgesic, of course) but not antiinflammatory.
posted by prcrstn8 at 8:05 PM on March 4, 2006

I think thermometers are good for distinguishing between "I have a fever, so I'll drink plenty of fluids and stay in bed" and "I have a really high fever, so I should seek medical help".

Also, knowing whether you have a fever at all helps you guess what kind of disease you might have, which helps you treat it more effectively.

Anyway, I second everyone else's suggestion of just getting a thermometer from a drugstore.
posted by hattifattener at 11:45 AM on March 5, 2006

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