Author Topic: Weakness of digital thermometers  (Read 13382 times)

Offline AllYouNeedIsLove

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Weakness of digital thermometers
« on: March 30, 2013, 02:46:05 PM »
This is a two-part post.

First of all, does anyone have a first-aid digital thermometer that does not SUCK? I ask this because i've noticed that even in hospitals there is this acceptance of thermometers that are poorly calibrated. I've seen differences in digital thermometers of 1.5-2 degrees within just minutes. Well, if anybody has a digital thermometer that seems both consistent and accurate, I'd like the beta.

Second part - it seems like it is almost impossible to get the old school mercury thermometers. I did find a glass thermometer filled with something called "Galinstan" which is a metal that functions like mercury but is not as toxic to humans. I bought a few from an unknown (and potentially sketchy) website and I'll report back on whether they delivered and whether the thermometers are good.

If you have an old mercury thermo, I'd hold on to it if it were me. Here's why: first - their accuracy is more a law of physics, and don't depend on being calibrated  the way digital thermos do. Second, digital thermometers only work if you have power for them - whereas the glass/metal thermometers could work for decades if not longer if you are careful with them.

anyway, just my $0.02. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 06:39:24 PM »
I was just thinking about this the other day. I hate all the digitals I have.  they are iffy at best.  most of the time, I let a fever run its course - it is there for a reason: the body is fighting and killing infections.  But I do like to keep track if it starts getting what I feel is really high, so I can tell the dr in case (rarely to never) we have to go in.  I was wondering if I could find a mercury thermometer somewhere....

Offline chromesoldier

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 07:25:27 PM »
I actually see them in antique stores now and then but it is very rae since the hole mercury is poisonious thing hence they stopped making them and when they did it was made of glass they are disaperring fast but i see them around at antiques and fleamarkets in small towns still

Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 08:03:44 PM »
I actually see them in antique stores now and then but it is very rae since the hole mercury is poisonious thing hence they stopped making them and when they did it was made of glass they are disaperring fast but i see them around at antiques and fleamarkets in small towns still
BUT they've forced light bulbs with mercury on us.  :crazy:

End of rant

Offline AllYouNeedIsLove

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 09:20:48 PM »
Ha! good point on the CFLs.

Well, http://www.wtsmedproducts.com/Products-Ordering/WT3-Protocol-Books-and-Supplies/Thermometer is the place where I ordered the Galviston thermometers. It's no Amazon website...like I said I'll post if they actually show up and work. But yeh, I can't be the only one who thinks that digital thermometers suck. Yet another example of new things getting worse. I know it is a bias to think that and there are certainly advantages to digital thermos (much faster for example) but isn't the whole point of a thermometer kind of shot if it doesn't give you a correct temp?

I had malaria off and on for several months many years back and i actually wanted to know my accurate temp, because if I got above 104.5 I'd sit in a cold bath. The obvious reason for wanting to know is if/when to take fever reducer/use cold washclothes/sit in cold bath and so forth. As long as you remain below 104 you're going to be ok. Also with newborns, it's maybe even more important cuz they really shouldn't get above 100.4 right?

Offline handsley

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 03:25:56 PM »
I have always relied on mercury thermometers for everything.  The last time we bought them, I bought 5 of them and thought I'll have them forever.  Well, guess what?  We broke all of them in a few years.  So I just bought 10 of them from this place:
http://www.surgicalshop.com/health-monitors-diagnostics/mercury-thermometers-clinical/index.php?gclid=COHMlOS2r7YCFa9aMgod-R8A7Q

They came from India, but were reliable and it didn't take long for them to ship.

One other point about a mercury thermometer, as long as you don't break them, they will last forever and do not need batteries, which is a plus for anyone with emergency preparedness in mind.  I have not found any good digital thermometers and bought quite a few when my son was young.  I know mercury is bad for you so if they break, don't eat the stuff that's inside.  Just my little tip.
Lisa

Offline AllYouNeedIsLove

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 09:39:44 PM »
Here is a picture of the Galinstan thermometers I just picked up...very accurate but take quite a bit of shaking down. I think I referenced where I bought them above, but if I didn't you can probably find them just searching Galinstan Thermometer. Anyway, the place I ordered from worked great and I'd recommend them. Here's a pic of the thermometer.


Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 10:32:27 PM »
Walgreens carries Galinstan thermometers in their stores - about $7. As far as shaking down a thermometer, it's more in flipping your wrist than swinging your arm. A couple of good wrist flips should bring it down.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 06:42:01 AM »
Walgreens carries Galinstan thermometers in their stores - about $7. As far as shaking down a thermometer, it's more in flipping your wrist than swinging your arm. A couple of good wrist flips should bring it down.

I may go over there and check them out.  thanks

Offline ChEng

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 04:05:52 PM »
Here is a picture of the Galinstan thermometers I just picked up...very accurate but take quite a bit of shaking down. I think I referenced where I bought them above, but if I didn't you can probably find them just searching Galinstan Thermometer. Anyway, the place I ordered from worked great and I'd recommend them. Here's a pic of the thermometer.

...

AllYouNeedIsLove,

Thanks for the link.  Are these Galinstan thermometers made from glass, I can't tell from the picture.  My biggest problem with the glass thermometers was alluded to by others: they break easily.  I'm not too concerned with the mercury - I played around with it when I was a kid.  As long as you don't heat it (vapors can be trouble) or spend too much time touching it, it's not worth worrying about.  but, the broken pieces of glass around - that's a different matter.  When my kids were younger, I had a recurring fear (okay, it was a mild fear, but...) of one of those things breaking while I was taking a kid's temp - broken glass in that area is NOT a good thing :o.  The digitals are nowhere near as fragile, and if they do break, it won't be like broken glass...

Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 04:34:37 PM »
As far as breakage of the glass thermometers, I was raised in a family of 10. I only saw one thermometer break & that was when mama was shaking it down and hit it on something. There are covers to put on digital thermometers which would probably work on glass thermometers. This one looks like it's made for glass thermometers.

http://www.amazon.com/Mercury-Free-Thermometer-Probe-Covers/dp/B000GUP7KC/ref=sr_1_43?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1365200682&sr=1-43&keywords=thermometer+covers

Offline ChEng

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 05:05:10 PM »
As far as breakage of the glass thermometers, I was raised in a family of 10. I only saw one thermometer break & that was when mama was shaking it down and hit it on something. There are covers to put on digital thermometers which would probably work on glass thermometers. This one looks like it's made for glass thermometers.

http://www.amazon.com/Mercury-Free-Thermometer-Probe-Covers/dp/B000GUP7KC/ref=sr_1_43?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1365200682&sr=1-43&keywords=thermometer+covers

We broke a few of them when the kids were young.  Actually, when I was a kid, we must have broken several, as I remember having mercury to play with several times while growing up.  I had not thought about the plastic covers for glass thermometers, those would have probably helped my concerns - however, I believe that they are an offshoot of digital thermometers.  We just washed the thermometer off and put it away for next time, no thinking about covering it.

Offline AllYouNeedIsLove

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2013, 10:17:00 AM »
It is either a hard plastic or glass - I'm not 100% sure. I'll bite on one when I get a chance which is probably the best way to figure it out.

Offline gunsNgold

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2013, 05:30:01 PM »
You will always get a +/-5% difference with digital thermometers. At least that's what I've found, but where they excel is their speed. And theyre not ice cold going in!  ;D

Offline Cedar

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Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2013, 11:29:23 PM »
Get vet ones. I don't necessarily recommend this company, just showing you what I am talking about.

http://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/supervet-dual-scale-veterinary-thermometer/0000000001115?utm_source=googleps&utm_medium=shopping%2Bsearch&utm_campaign=google%2Bproduct%20search&gclid=COespoOiwbYCFYx_QgodwHkA9A

Cedar

Wow, thinking back to the days....

Seems like old mercury thermometers came in two types, oral and rectal.  There was a calibration difference, maybe a degree or so different.  I'd bet those animal ones are "rectal" FWIW.

Can anyone expound on this? 

~TG   *doesn't really want to expose her age*

Offline Cedar

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2013, 12:15:06 AM »
I'd bet those animal ones are "rectal" FWIW.

Yep.. and as long as they have never been used, I care not. I keep animal stuff separate from my human stuff.

Cedar

Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2013, 12:29:54 PM »
A thermometer (oral or rectal / digital or mercury) can be used in the armpit to take the temperature of an adult, child or baby. I do know that you either add or subtract 1 degree but at the moment, I don't recall - would need to do some research.

Offline rikkrack

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2013, 12:51:10 PM »
Having worked in a calibration and standards organization each thermometer has a varying degree of inaccuracy and uncertainty. Depending what your level of accuracy needs to be depends on the type of thermometer to use. Some are as accurate a +/- 0.0001 Deg C. Some +/- 5Deg C. They also loose accuracy over time. Even liquid ones (mercury/alcohol). Not all digital thermometers are created the same. Depending on the actual “sensing” method in the end of the thermometer you can get varying results. Thermometers are not always linear. If your range is 0-100 they could be +/- 1 at the low end and +/- 0.25 on the upper. If a thermometer says it is rated 0-100 do not trust beyond that range. Some digital units will stop transmitting beyond the range or reduce the electronic signal giving a false reading.
Tip: Store all liquid filled thermometers vertical. This will help alleviate separation in the liquid and add to inaccuracy.

Battery level can have an impact on digital thermometers. If accuracy is desired use fresh batteries.
If you can, check and compare thermometers regularly (2 is 1, 1 is none, 3 is for the prepper in me).
For example 0-100 C  place all thermometers in a ice/water back and see what they all read. If that are spot on great, if one is different by more than a degree or two mark it. Place them all in a boiling water bath (not right after the ice bath, allow stabilization to room temp) and see if they are all close. If the marked one is off as well, toss it.

+/- 2 Deg doesn’t seem like much, but if it is a child with a fever and it reads 101.5 but it is really 103.5 or higher it could be serious.

I can go into WAY more details if anyone wants more. Lived that life for many, many years.

Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2013, 01:11:09 PM »
This is just my opinion but I think everyone should check their temp several times when you're not sick or running a fever. My normal temp runs in the  97.6 to 97.8 range, so at the "normal 98.6" I have a fever.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Weakness of digital thermometers
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2013, 11:44:18 AM »
This is just my opinion but I think everyone should check their temp several times when you're not sick or running a fever. My normal temp runs in the  97.6 to 97.8 range, so at the "normal 98.6" I have a fever.

Yes. 

I was hyperactive as a child (might still be?) and my "normal" temp was about 99.2 ish.  Back in gradeschool, if I wanted to go home, just complaining about a stomach or head ache was enough.  They'd send me to the school nurse who would take my temp and pronounce a fever.  Mom would come and away I went.  Lke clockwork.

Mom did fuss if I overused it, though.

I was quite a handful, and Mom thought the teachers could probably use a break every now and then, so it was basically a win-win proposition.

~TG