The best medical thermometers read temperatures quickly and accurately and display results clearly. They track and store multiple readings to monitor temperatures over a time period and work for both children and adults. There are many types of digital thermometers, including forehead, ear, rectal, and contactless thermometers. We’ve included all types in our list based on our years of research and testing thermometers.
The Withings Thermo is a smart thermometer that takes readings via the temporal artery located at your temple. It’s non-invasive, meaning it will get an accurate reading without touching anyone and can be used quietly while a loved one is asleep. It stores up to eight different users' information.
- In-app health guidance
- Tricky to use on yourself
Accurate temperature readings are taken using 16 infrared sensors. Once captures, the temperature is displayed on the front of the Thermo and a color-coded LED indicator will tell you if there is a fever, making it easy to spot at a glance. Temperature readings sync automatically with your smartphone, and the Thermo app will offer health advice based on the reading, the person’s age, fever history, and additional symptoms. The only big downer is that it is difficult to use this thermometer on yourself. This is because of the place and angle that the thermometer needs to be held in order to get an accurate reading.
Good for children
For a hygienic temperature reading, this digital thermometer by iHealth will quickly take temperatures without any physical contact with the body whatsoever. The no-touch feature makes it ideal for use on sleeping children.
- No-contact design
- Clear, bright display
- No memory store function
This digital thermometer is straightforward to use with a simple single-button design and a clear LED screen, which is bright enough to read even in total darkness. Other handy features include a quiet vibrating alert, which lets you know when your reading is done. The iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer is small and easy to carry, so it's a good choice to take along on outings or vacations. it is powered with 2 AAA batteries. Unlike other no-touch thermometers we've evaluated, the iHealth thermometer doesn't store any previous temperature readings, or other medical information.
The Braun ThermoScan 7 is one of the most feature-rich digital thermometers on the market. It considered every step of the temperature reading process, making it as easy, accurate, and comfortable as possible.
- Stores last nine readings
- Wide angle ear probe
- Disposable probe covers
- Kids may find it intrusive
This digital thermometer has a useful memory function that stores nine previous temperature readings to help track changes. Plus, it uses age-adjustable fever guidance to validate whether your child does indeed have a fever and how severe it is. These are color-coded making it easier to glance and read quickly. The Braun ThermoScan 7 has a wide-angle probe to make accurate readings easier to get and eliminates the need to constantly adjust the angle and irritating your child. Built-in sensor pointer guidance makes this even faster, and a night light makes the entire device easy to use in darker environments. It comes with several disposable probe covers with the option to purchase more to have on hand
Tracks temps and meds
This digital thermometer takes temperature readings from in the ear. However, the Kinsa Smart Ear can be used for oral, rectal, and underarm readings, too.
- Oral, armpit, and rectal readings
- Long battery life
- Keeps track of med dosages
- Doesn't record readings on the device
The thermometer itself doesn't track previous readings or other health data. But, connecting the thermometer to the companion app gives you personalized help. This includes hints and tricks to bring down a fever, possible illnesses, and when to call a doctor based on the age of the person that is sick. It keeps track of when your fever began and how long it lasted. You can also input medications and get a clear chart showing illness and treatment history, which is helpful to share with doctors and pharmacists. Though it requires AAA batteries to work, the Kinsa Smart Ear will keep working for up to 600 readings before the batteries need to be changed.
Color-coded fever alert
This is a very simple digital thermometer that delivers temperature readings without making contact with the skin. The Motorola Care+ 3-in-1 has a quiet, nighttime mode for taking temperatures as a person sleeps, and it can store up to 30 readings at a time to give you a clearer picture of whether a the fever is worsening or easing up.
- Color-coded fever alert
- Quiet mode
- Stores 30 readings
- Quite chunky
The Motorola Care+ 3-in-1 digital thermometer will take accurate temperature readings in one minute without skin contact. It uses a color-coded alert system, based on age, to let you know of any possible fever and if it is high enough to be considered dangerous. This smart thermometer is also safe for use as a water, baby food, and liquid thermometer. It is a bit bigger and heavier compared to other thermometers we looked at, so it's not the best for traveling.
Why use a digital thermimeter
Besides fever monitoring, these might be other reasons why you want to buy a digital thermometer. For example, you might be trying to conceive a baby and therefore want to get a better idea of when you’re close to ovulating. In that case, we’d point you towards a basal thermometer, as these are designed to recognize the tiny changes in body temperature that could indicate upcoming ovulation.
Or maybe you have an ongoing health condition and need to track your temperature for several days at a time. In that case, look for the Withings, Braun Thermoscan, and Kinsa Smart Thermometer models below.
It’s important to remember that even the very best digital thermometers aren’t accurate enough to base an entire medical plan on. For expert advice, you should consult your doctor. A thermometer can help you get an idea of what’s going on and whether it’s wise to seek further medical help.
Depending on its design, the most effective ways to use a digital thermometer are:
* Oral (in the mouth)
* Axillary (armpit)
* Rectal – use a separate device for oral and rectal readings
How to choose the best digital thermometer for you
There are different types of thermometers, including ear thermometers, multiuse ones that can be placed in the ear, under the tongue or arms, or inserted rectally, and forehead or temporal thermometers. Choosing the best digital thermometer for you is a matter of who will be using it, whether they are fine with more invasive thermometers or would prefer a non-contact thermometer, and whether you would prefer smart features too.
Ear thermometers are not suitable for use on newborns as their ear canals are too small, but they are suitable for older children and adults. Most doctors use this type of digital thermometer, and some commercially available devices come with hygienic disposable lens caps.
Forehead thermometers are newer, and some health practitioners argue over whether they are any closer to the ‘real’ temperature of your body than rectal thermometers. Some parents also worry about how accurate these types of digital thermometers are.
If you want to see a clear temperature history, choose a smart thermometer with an in-app data display or a digital thermometer that is capable of recording the last several temperature readings.
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