How to Take a Rectal Temperature

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There are times when a temperature needs to be taken rectally. Children with disabilities need rectal temperature's because they don't stay still long enough to take one under the arm and often bite the thermometer when placed in the mouth. Taking a rectal temperature is also the most accurate way to get a temperature reading.

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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