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Underarm Temperature

Underarm Temperature

When compared to rectal and oral temperatures, armpit temperature is considered less accurate. This article provides some information about the various aspects of underarm temperature reading.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
According to a new study, the average of temperatures of both armpits is considered as the accurate underarm temperature, rather than the reading from a single armpit.

Right from childhood, most of us get familiar with thermometers, which are used to measure body temperature. The sites for measuring body temperature include the mouth, forehead, ears, underarm, and the rectum; but the easiest method is to measure the armpit temperature. The normal body temperature of humans is 98.6°F or 37.0°C. This temperature may correspond to the oral temperature, but may vary with readings taken from other locations. In short, the normal body temperature may vary slightly, according to the location. So the underarm temperature may not be the same as the oral or the rectal temperatures.
How to Read Armpit Temperature
Any type of thermometer can be used for this purpose, but electronic ones are preferred. You have to place the thermometer probe in the armpit, and fold the arm across the chest. If it is a digital thermometer, you have to wait till it beeps. If you are using a glass thermometer, wait for at least five minutes to get a fairly accurate temperature. It is better to avoid use of mercury thermometers. Underarm or axillary temperature measurement method is very common, but cannot be considered as the most accurate reading. The underarm temperature could be around half to one degree lower than the oral temperature. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the normal axillary temperature range in adults is 95.9°F to 98.6°F (35.5°C to 37°C). For kids, the value ranges from 94.5°F to 99.1°F (34.7°C to 37.3°C).
How Far is the Underarm Temperature Accurate?
As mentioned above, rectal and oral temperatures are considered more accurate than the axillary temperature. For kids below the age of two years, rectal method is preferred for measuring body temperature. The second choice is the axillary method. While the rectal method gives you the exact reading, axillary method is useful for checking fever.
For those in the age group of two to five years, the rectal method remains the most preferred one, and the second choice is the tympanic method. The axillary method comes third. Oral method is the best for those who are above the age of five years. The second choice is the tympanic method, and axillary method comes third.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the normal rectal temperature in adults may range between 93.9°F to 100.4°F (34.4°C to 38°C); 91.76°F to 100.76°F (33.2°C to 38.2°C) in oral method, and 95.72°F to 100.04°F (35.4°C to 37.8°C) in the tympanic method. In short, any body temperature that ranges between 94°F to 100.4°F can be considered normal in adults.
In case of kids, the normal rectal temperature is 97.9°F to 100.4°F (36.6°C to 38°C). The normal oral temperature is 95.9°F to 99.5°F (35.5°C to 37.5°C). In tympanic method, the normal values range from 96.4°F to 100.4°F ( 35.8°C to 38°C).
Variations in Normal Underarm Temperature
While the body temperature may vary slightly from one location to another, there are various other factors that may affect the reading. When it comes to locations for measuring temperature, rectal method is considered the most accurate, and the oral temperature is found to be the same or slightly lower than the rectal temperature. The tympanic (ear) temperature is slightly higher than the oral one, which is slightly higher than the forehead temperature reading.
Another factor that affects the reading is the gender. Men tend to have a slightly higher temperature range, as compared to women. Even age is a factor as far the body temperature is concerned. As the age increases, the body temperature reduces slightly. While infants and toddlers have a slightly higher body temperature, it is variable in kids of all age groups.
Body temperature increases slightly during evening time and after strenuous physical activities. Such a rise may also be experienced after eating and exposure to a high temperature or humidity. While certain medicines may raise the body temperature, menstruating women too have a slightly high temperature.
When the body temperature crosses the higher limit of the normal range, it amounts to fever. Instead of worrying about the slight variations in body temperature, all you have to do is to seek immediate medical attention in case of highly abnormal temperatures. In case of babies, it is advisable to seek medical attention, even if the temperature rise is not significant.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.