How to Take a Rectal Temperature


There are times when a temperature needs to be taken rectally. During those time you are going to need to know what to do. These steps will take you through the process so that you too can take a rectal temperature.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermometer
  • Vaseline
  • Patient

How To Take the Temperature

Have your patient lie down flat on their backs.

Add some vaseline to the end of the thermometer.

Insert thermometer in to the rectum about 1 inch deep and hold for 3 minutes to get an accurate reading.

How to Read the Thermometer

Count your dashes. Each thermometer has numbers and in between those numbers are little dashes. Each dash counts as two degrees. If your thermometer reads 100 and two dashes, your temperature would be 100.4. If your thermometer reads 98 and 4 dashes that would mean your temperature is 98.8. You get the idea.

Determine if your thermometer is a regular thermometer or a rectal thermometer.

Subtract a whole degree if your thermometer is a regular thermometer and you have your temperature.

Do not subtract anything from a rectal thermometer. It has been set to take an accurate temperature in the rectum.

Tips & Warnings

  • You are not considered to have a fever if your temperature is below 100.4.
  • If you temperature is 100.4 keep an eye on it because it may indicate that you are getting sick, in which case the temperature will eventually go up.

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