Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | 10:57 pm

A thermometer is a glass instrument about four inches long and as thick as a drinking straw. At one end it has a silver bulb. There are two kinds of thermometers, oral and rectal. Except for the shape of the bulb, there is no really important difference between them. I suggest that you purchase two rectal thermometers, as this type can be used in either the mouth or rectum and is less breakable. Keep them in separate containers marked ‘mouth use’ and ‘rectal use.’

The thermometer bulb is filled with mercury that spreads through the tube when the temperature rises. In reading the thermometer, always hold the end opposite the bulb. Turn the glass between your fingers until you see a silvery bar that marks the top of the mercury. At whatever degree the mercury stops, that is the temperature. For example, if the mercury stops at the first short line after the line marked 100° on a Fahrenheit thermometer, then the temperature reading is 100.2° F.—each short line measures two tenths of a degree.

There is usually an arrow on the thermometer that points to 98.4° (37° on a Centigrade thermometer). This is considered to be the normal temperature. Above this point, some thermometers use red markings.


(posted in General health)

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