My little West Central Illinois town got hit with a thunderstorm a couple nights ago. Even though my 3-year-old son handles storms exceptionally well for his age, I decided around 2 a.m. I needed to peek in his room to make sure he was okay.
To my surprise, I found him lying in bed awake. I asked if the storm was keeping him awake. “No. I’m sick,” he said. Sure enough, a quick touch of his forehead and cheeks told me he had a fever – and probably a rather high one at that. But to determine how bad it was I retrieved my handy temporal scanner to measure his temperature – one of those infrared thermometers designed to take a person’s temperature with a sweep of the forehead.
The device indicated that my son’s temperature was just below 103 Fahrenheit. I gave him a dose of Children’s Motrin and some juice to prevent dehydration and then retreated to my laptop to begin researching fever in children. This last action was really more of a self-comforting mechanism because I already knew that fever alone is not a huge problem. I also know what signs to watch for to determine if his fever was signaling a greater concern like meningitis. But what I had not realized was that the tool I have come to rely so heavily on for measuring my child’s temperature might not be all that accurate.
According to a Reuters article I found from 2007, a study published that year in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise cast doubt on the ability of temporal scanners to diagnose fevers or heat-related illness. So how do I know if my son’s fever is really hovering just below 103 or if it’s actually higher – which case I would have reason to be alarmed?
There’s no way my son will allow me to take his temperature the old-fashioned way and truthfully I do not trust myself enough anyway for fear that I might somehow damage his rectum. And he’s not quite old enough to hold it under the tongue long enough.
But wait – I might have found my solution. Last week the Bluetooth Special Interest Group says it has finalized technology that will drive the creation of its Bluetooth thermometer and heart rate products. SIG said one potential use for the Health Thermometer Profile involves a thermometer patch that can send temperature measurements to a mobile phone every half hour to enable a parent to closely monitor the fever of a sick child without disturbing them.
Now that would be handy – assuming it’s accurate. My son would get a cool sticker to wear and I would get peace of mind knowing that I have a reliable, non-invasive way to monitor his fever.