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Thermometers and Body Temperature

It has been my experience that underarm (axial) temperature measurement is Extremely Unreliable. Also, some types of thermometers are more reliable than others.

I take my temperature often, both during hot soaks, and at other times dealing with my Low body Temperature Problems. Part of it is biofeedback training, trying to teach myself to adjust my body temperature and metabolism; and part has been in experiments related to the use of external tones, lights, and magnetic fields to improve metabolism and brain function. (Yea Olde Buddhist Monk techniques, now done up with little more than modern terminology. This stuff it is thousands of years old, cross cultural, etc.)

Think about it for a moment, how does the body regulate temperature? Level one, is by regulating blood circulation to the skin. Level two, is by sweating. In my own experience, I have found that I can easily show 8 degrees of difference between in-mouth temperature and colder skin temperature.

Excitement, room temperature variations, even thinking about your mother in-law, all those things have a major impact on blood circulation to the skin, and not in a uniform manner. Several years ago at the Whole Earth Expo in San Francisco, there were a bunch who were doing something very much like psychotherapy by watching the fluctuations in skin temperature in their subjects as they said various words. (The next year, they expanded their booth from a single to a quad! They were raking it in!)

There is also a whole brand of faith healing which appears to use near subliminal detection of changes in skin temperature as a core part of their therapy. I almost burst out laughing as they said there was also "a more distant spiritual component" out about the location of the downdraft from the convection cell created by their warm victim. That does not mean their techniques don't work, only that they don't know what they are talking about. Lots of things work for reasons unknown to the people working them. After all, do you know the details about flame propagation in the pistons of your automobile? But that does not stop you from driving it to work.

Thermometer Types

Ear / IR Thermometers

I have also experimented with ear type thermometers. I have found reading differences of four degrees between successive attempts to read the temperature in the same ear. Those infra-red in-ear thermometers are worthless. The pharmacist to whom I returned it to said they all have high return rates because they are not reliable.

Electronic Oral Thermometers

Electronic in-mouth thermometers tend to be better; but if used in a hot and humid bathroom, such as trying to monitor body temperature during a hot soak, your breath can cause sufficient condensation to cause SOME of the devices to malfunction. (Not to mention the wet fingers...) The advantage of an oral electronic thermometer, is that by turning it on and off, you can see the more subtle fluctuations in body temperature. I often see a half to one degree fluctuation on a three to six minute cycle. If I am feeling tired or weak, I am spending more of the time near the bottom of that cyclical temperature range than near the top.

Glass Thermometers

Glass thermometers are reliable if you have shaken them down; but the mercury is poisonous, and we all drop things now and then... (A broken mercury thermometer is a toxic waste spill.) They are slow to respond, and because of that, will not show the cycling phenomenon.

Other Thermometers

I have also tried a number of Radio Shack indoor-outdoor thermometers. I have used them in the mouth, arm pit, even inserted in the ears. One classical MCS problem is changes in brain circulation. This can manifest itself as a half degree or larger difference between in-ear temperatures. This can be detected with in-ear thermometers, although not comfortably...

Since regular thermometers are not made to clinical standards, I check their accuracy by using a rubber band to hold the bulb next to the bulb of a clinical glass thermometer, immersing the set in a glass of water, then slowly heating the glass to see how closely they track the clinical thermometer. Some do well, others do poorly; I guess it just depends on who calibrated them.

One other problem is that many of these are made in China, and Chinese wire insulation technology is just crap! The insulation breaks down in less than half a year of daily use. But indoor/outdoor thermometers are cheap and more convenient than looking at a clinical thermometer in your mouth cross eyed.


So if you are interested in measuring your body temperature, don't use the underarm method. It is extremely unreliable!

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