Article Thumbnail

Can You Take Your Temperature Without a Thermometer?

Sorry, your meat thermometer probably won’t work

I don’t own a thermometer, because I don’t have kids and I’m not freaking Daddy Warbucks. Like I’m going to spend $15 on something I might need in the future. But ummmmm now there’s this pandemic, and I couldn’t even buy a thermometer if I wanted one. Is there anything I could use instead to figure out if I have a fever? 

Sadly, no, there’s no temperature-taking hack here. Not an accurate one, anyway. 

While a meat thermometer (which I don’t own, either) might be able to help determine your temp, most aren’t sensitive to the small differences in heat in the body. Meat thermometers are designed to tell you whether something is cooked or not, which varies by 10 degrees or so for different meats. When we have a fever, though, our temperature might only be two degrees different than what it usually is. Meat thermometers typically aren’t accurate on that level

And no, touching your forehead to see if it feels hot doesn’t work — and it’s still inaccurate if someone else touches your forehead, too. Since you’re out of luck on that end, you can at least try and guess whether you have a fever based on the other symptoms: In adults, a fever is commonly associated with feeling cold, sweating, muscle aches, headache and lack of appetite. Generally, a fever is just uncomfortable. Having these symptoms/a low fever isn’t necessarily a cause for major concern, or an indication that you have the coronavirus. You can lower your fever and ease some of the symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen (although you may want to be wary of the latter for treating coronavirus symptoms).

A high fever of more than 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern, however, and is associated with more severe symptoms. If you suspect you might have a fever and are experiencing persistent vomiting, confusion, migraines, convulsions, sensitivity to light, difficulty breathing or pain in your neck, you should definitely call your doctor. They’ll tell you how to proceed. 

Now get that meat thermometer out of your rectum.