Most doctors and parents agree that when it comes to taking the temperature of a teenager, it is much better to do it orally. Taking rectal temperature in teenagers is not only impossible when they are conscious, but could be potentially damaging to them emotionally well into their adult lives.
As parents, I am sure we all remember using rectal thermometers on our children when they were babies. Now let’s think back as far as we can remember to when we were small children ourselves. A lot of us will probably have a very unpleasant and uncomfortable memory of having our temperature taken rectally. As we got older, we would have been horrified at the thought of having our temperature measured in such an invasive way. Simply put, using rectal temperature for teenagers is not a good idea.
My 16 year old son happened to be in the room while I was researching other opinions on this subject. He looked at me as if I had suddenly grown two heads and vacated the premises. I dare say that your teenagers would react in much the same way if you informed them that you were about to take a rectal temperature from them. Taking a rectal temperature from your teenager is simply not going to work.
Actually, once a child is old enough, usually around the age of 4, to start holding an oral thermometer in his mouth, rectal temperature taking becomes a thing of the past. Only in very young children should a rectal thermometer be used to gauge a fever. With all the insecurities and drama that is a natural part of this age, taking a rectal temperature from your teenager should not be something to endure.
In researching this topic, I only found one item relating to taking rectal temperature in teenagers as an accepted method of gauging a fever. I found a quote from someone in Norway said this was an accepted practice in that country. Although this person also stated that, while rectal thermometers were used with teenagers, the teenagers were usually allowed to take it themselves.
Oral, ear and under the armpit methods are much more acceptable for older children. These methods are also tried and true, making life much easier on the child, parent, doctors and nurses involved. So if you are the lucky parent of a child in this age group, you should stick to these other less intrusive methods of taking temperatures rather than taking a rectal temperature from your teenager. You will all be much happier.↑ Back to Top