Temporal Artery Thermometer: Does it Work?

By Lauren Keith - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU (KFVS) - It's heartbreaking enough for any parent to see their children cry when they're sick, and it's not any easier to take their temperature then either.

That's where these temporal thermometers come in. Simply swipe them across your child's forehead, and release the button after a few seconds. It supposedly measures the radiating heat from your child.

Brittani Kinder of Cape Girardeau tries out the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer.


This $30 model says it's one of the "smartest products of the decade" and "more accurate than ear thermometers."

Brittani swipes it across her son's forehead one more time.


Trouble is, the readings are inconsistent.

"98.0..different each time!"

To compare, Brittani uses her regular digital thermometer on son, Brayden.


It's a few degrees cooler than readings from the temporal thermometer. She keeps going and tries it on her baby girl, Brylee. You can tell by the baby's little eyebrows raising she knows something is going on, but not at all bothered by the temperature scan.

"It'd also be good when they're sleeping at night," said Brittani.

True, and we can easily tell which one Brylee prefers. She cries when her mom places the regular digital thermometer under the baby's arm. Still, mom knows best. She notes the inconsistent readings taken from Brylee, too. Brittani is also studying to be a nurse and says she doubts whether most doctors would accept readings from the temporal thermometers.

"They always use digital. I haven't seen any pediatrician use temporal."

Meantime, I asked other parents their preference, and actually learned some horror stories from some of our viewers. Listen to Michelle Otte's story.

"My daughter had a temperature of 105 degrees on both a Saturday and Sunday when I was using the Exergen temporal thermometer. When we got into the doctor, he found it was only 99 degrees.  So, it was significantly different."

So, Michelle apparently gave her daughter, Taylor, medication when she might not have needed it, which worried the mother of course.

"When I told the doctor about the difference, he told me the forehead thermometers aren't as reliable and not to use them. He recommended the standard ear thermometer or rectal."

Michelle also noticed the inconsistent readings with the temporal thermometer.  It could be "operator-error" but it's enough for both moms to go back to the "tried and true" methods of taking temperatures.

"I'd give it a 'D'," said Michelle.

"I'd give it a 'C' because it still would be handy to use when they're sleeping, but if you want more accuracy, definitely go with the standard digital thermometers," said Brittani.

I'll meet in the middle and give the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer a not-so-sizzling C- on this Does it Work test.

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