Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 23, 2020

The Evolution Of Taking Someone's Temperature

When a person’s feeling ill and warm, we tend to check their temperature to see if they’re experiencing any fever, allowing you to determine if they should be brought to the hospital immediately. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways on how you can take someone’s temperature. It can be done through the mouth, ears, forehead, underarm, or rectal.

Along with this, the device that you use to take the temperature has made an evolution that allows you to accurately take one’s temperature. One of the most advanced devices in taking someone’s temperature would be a temperature screening kiosk that’s designed for business use. Not only that they’re able to capture one’s temperature, but they’re also able to capture the person’s photo for database management. 

Here’s how taking temperatures progressed: 

Mercury Thermometer

The mercury thermometer is the oldest medical instrument that’s used to detect one’s thermometer. They’re made out of glass and have liquid mercury inside of it that rises up or down, depending on the temperature of the metal end. Along with the glass, it also includes a scale to further help you identify the temperature of a person. 

When using this type of thermometer, it’s best that you gently shake it to reduce the mercury level, capturing better results after it lowers in height. You can use this orally, rectally, and placing it in between your underarms. You just have to wait until the liquid mercury stops moving to make sure that it has made its final count.

Take note that you need to be extra careful when handling mercury thermometer as they’re prone to breakage. Liquid mercury can be toxic and extremely dangerous. 

Digital Thermometer

A digital thermometer is a plastic device that uses a sensor instead of a liquid, providing maximum safety in case of breakage. 

The digital thermometer is a relatively new invention that makes it easy to keep track of one’s temperature. A digital thermometer has no moving parts so it can be kept anywhere. Instead, a digital thermometer contains a microprocessor chip and a small resistor. When a temperature change occurs, the microprocessor senses a slight change in the resistance. The chip then converts the slight change in resistance into an electrical signal and transmits it to the microprocessor's internal memory. The microprocessor interprets the voltage change and provides an electronic readout on the thermometer's display in degrees (Fahrenheit or Celsius).

You must learn to disinfect your thermometer after each use, most especially when you use this at a hospital. 

Basal Thermometer

Much like a standard digital thermometer, a basal thermometer simply measures your body’s temperature. The main difference is that it only measures very little increments–a fraction of a degree or a tenth of a degree.

There are plenty of advantages when using basal thermometers over regular digital thermometers. For one, they’re a lot more accurate than other thermometers. This is because they require less information, giving you accurate readings. Most of them give readings that are within an inch or two of each other.

Temporal Artery Thermometer (TAT)

The TAT is another portable and lightweight handheld device that allows you to capture the temperature of one person without inserting the device into their mouth. All you need to do is to point the sensor on their forehead, press the button, and you should see the results in seconds.  

The TAT captures the heat that’s naturally released by the skin through the temporal artery. Take note that the arteries receive blood directly from the heart, making it a great and convenient way to check the heart’s temperature. 

Tympanic Thermometer

A tympanic thermometer refers to a simple apparatus that’s commonly used to determine the body’s temperature. This is a handheld, wand-like device that captures a person’s temperature from their ear.

It works by using infrared light that helps detect thermal radiation that's emitted from the tympanic membrane. With this, it calculates the emission gathered and converts it into a numerical temperature that allows you to determine the person’s temperature. A Tympanic Thermometer should be used by a healthcare professional so can provide accurate results.  


With the modern world today, we now have thermometers that allow us to capture a person’s temperature without direct contact. This is helpful most especially when you’re using this in hospitals since direct contact might result in unintentionally spreading a disease. 

Not only has the thermometer evolved, but medical technology has evolved as well, enabling healthcare professionals to help more people as much as they possibly can. 

If your fever is above 38°C for more than 2 days, you should consult with your doctor immediately. If you reached 40°C, immediately contact your doctor and don’t wait for other symptoms to show up. It’s always important that you look out for your temperature especially when you’re sick.  

Lori Graham

Lori Graham is full-time blogger who writes articles about the developments in the healthcare industry. Lori aims to help her readers improve the quality of their lives by educating and encouraging the make the most out of the newest trends from the healthcare industry.

During her leisure, Lori loves to read books at home.

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