How to Check an Oral Temperature

Measuring body temperature can often give helpful data regarding a person’s health status. Taking a temperature orally is one of the most common ways to check a temperature, but it is important to ensure that checking a temperature under the tongue is performed accurately and safely in order for the data to be useful and to prevent injury.

check oral temperature

When Should an Oral Temperature be Taken?

Checking an oral temperature can be convenient, quicker, and less invasive than routes such as the rectal route, but there are certain circumstances in which an oral temperature should not be taken. If the oral route should be avoided, select a different route if needing to acquire the data immediately.

Avoid measuring body temperature under the tongue if the person is:
  • under the age of six
  • experiencing chills or rigors or if her teeth are chattering
  • bleeding orally or has pain and/or sores in the mouth
  • recovering from recent surgery in the mouth
  • receiving oxygen via a mask
  • cannot breathe or is having difficulty breathing through his or her nose
  • using a nasogastric tube for feedings
  • on seizure precautions
  • unable to hold the lips closed
  • confused, combative, or uncooperative
  • unconscious or not responsive

In order to measure an accurate oral temperature, consider other common factors that may affect the oral temperature reading. Wait at least ten to 15 minutes to check an oral temperature if the person has been:
  • eating
  • drinking
  • smoking
  • chewing gum

Types of Oral Thermometers

The equipment needed for checking an oral temperature is an oral thermometer. Clinical settings may designate an oral thermometer for either use in the mouth or under the arm (axillary). Rectal thermometers are often identified by a different shaped tip and/or a different color coding. Many oral thermometers have a blue or green end while rectal thermometers typically have a red marking.

Glass thermometers are often less expensive than other types of thermometers. Older styles of thermometers contained mercury, a silver-white substance that would rise to indicate the measured temperature. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's June 11, 1998 online article entitled "Frequently Asked Questions About Mercury Thermometers," mercury poses a potential threat to the environment, people, and animals. Newer versions may look and work very similar but are mercury free and contain red or blue alcohol or galinstan, a mixture of gallium, tin, and indium.

Regardless of the type of thermometer used, inspect it carefully for any chips, cracks, or other defects. Oral thermometers used in clinical settings are often kept in chargers and have disposable probe covers. The thermometer should be cleaned between patients per manufacturer’s recommendations and infection control guidelines. Instead of using a probe cover, some thermometers may be soaked in an appropriate antiseptic or wiped with a cleaning solution before and after use.

How to Check a Temperature Under the Tongue

Shake down the liquid in a glass thermometer before placing it in the mouth. This can be done by holding the thermometer firmly and flicking the wrist until the liquid reads at or below the lowest number. Be careful to shake the thermometer away from people and objects.

Carefully place the bulb end of the thermometer under the tongue and instruct the person to:
  • close his mouth
  • breathe through his nose
  • not bite on the thermometer

Digital oral thermometers have a numeric display that appears on a small screen. This number may be in Fahrenheit or Celcius. Digital thermometers may beep, blink, or become stationary to indicate a completed reading, depending on the manufacturer. Glass thermometers should be held in place for three minutes.

After removing a glass thermometer from the mouth, remove and discard the probe cover if used and carefully wipe the thermometer with a dry tissue from end to tip. Hold a glass thermometer at eye level and read the top of the liquid level to the nearest line. Long lines indicate whole number degrees while short lines indicate 0.2 degrees. Digital thermometers may be read by looking at the number in the screen and the probe cover should be discarded if used.

Recording the Temperature

It is helpful to record a temperature so that trends can be identified. When recording a temperature in a clinical setting, it is important to follow facility procedure and to notify the nurse or designated licensed caregiver per protocol. If recording a temperature at home, it is helpful to document:
  • time the temperature was taken
  • route for checking the temp
  • any therapy given for a fever
  • additional readings as appropriate

How to Accurately Check Temperature in the Mouth

Choosing the oral route to check a temperature involves several considerations, such as the condition of the person and the thermometer. Follow appropriate hygienic measures to prevent the spread of germs and infections such as MRSA. Ensure that manufacturer’s directions are followed for using, reading, and storing an oral thermometer.

An elevated temperature or fever may or may not indicate that an infection is present and the lack of a fever does not necessarily mean that the person is healthy and well. Temperature measurements are often collected in addition to other vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.

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How to Quit Smoking Now

quit smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking cigarettes increases a person’s chance of having a heart attack, getting lung disease, and getting cancer. The best way to reduce these risks is to stop the habit of smoking. To quit this powerful addiction, a person needs to have a solid plan and dependable support system.

Set a Date to Quit Smoking

The first step in kicking this habit is setting a specific date. For example, a person should not say that he is going to stop in the winter. Instead it should be a specific date such as November 21, 2009. If someone is not yet motivated to quit smoking, he should talk to friends, family members, or a licensed mental health professional. Even though smoking is bad for people’s health, there are psychological reasons that people do it. Maybe it helps a person to relax or makes the person feel more social. If a person is not ready to quit, she needs to examine those reasons and how it might conflict with other goals such as being able to attend her granddaughter’s fifth birthday.

Support System

When someone decides that she is going to quit smoking cigarettes, she needs a support system in place. She will need someone to talk to when it gets extremely hard, someone to encourage her, and someone to hold her accountable. People are more likely to reach their goals if they tell people about them.

If a person doesn’t have friends or family members to rely on or wants extra support, she could see a licensed mental health professional. A therapist could help the person set a date, discuss goals, and help her look at her ambivalence around quitting. The therapist might also help the person come up with a plan of action when the cravings are strong.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine is extremely addictive which makes quitting smoking very difficult. Many people need the help of nicotine replacement therapy through patches, nicotine gum, or nicotine nasal spray. If a person thinks that he needs nicotine replacement therapy, he should discuss it with his general physician to decide the right plan for himself.

Rewards for Quitting

A person should reward herself for quitting. Before the start date, she should make a timeline and rewards for getting to that timeline. For example, she might say that after not smoking for twenty-four hours she will take a long bubble bath, one week after not smoking she will treat herself to a new outfit, and one month after not smoking she will get a massage. People can stay motivated by giving themselves healthy rewards, and they will be able to afford it if they don’t have to buy cigarettes on a regular basis.

Smoking is a habit that many people struggle with on a regular basis. It’s something that many people are embarrassed about and want to give up for their health. To be successful in quitting the habit of smoking now, people need to put a plan in place for themselves.

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How To Find Free, Cheap Drugs

Cheap Drugs

Drug prescription costs can be overwhelming, especially if you do not have health insurance or prescription coverage. Fortunately, there are some options for people who meet certain requirements. Some of these options are offered by large retailers, while others are available through organizations or pharmaceutical companies themselves.

Retailers Offer Low-Cost Prescriptions

Some of the largest retailers now offer substantial discounts on 30- to 90-day supplies of prescriptions drugs. Here is a partial list:
  • WalMart offers a $4 Prescriptions Program with up to a 30-day supply of more than 350 prescription drugs for $4 and 1,000 over-the-counter medications for $4 or less. In some cases, you can get a 90-day supply for $10. You may apply for this program even if you have health insurance. The offer also applies to Neighborhood Market and Sam’s Club.
  • Target has a program that is similar to WalMart’s: $4 for up to a 30-day supply and $10 for up to 90 days.
  • Food City, Giant Eagle, and Kroger supermarket chains also have a $4 price on 30-day prescriptions. Kroger also offers birth control for $9.
  • Weis Markets, which has 155 stores in the eastern part of the US, offers a 90-day supply of more than 350 generic drugs for $9.99.
  • Publix supermarkets offer free antibiotics if you have a valid prescription, regardless of whether you have health insurance. A 14-day supply is offered.
  • Kmart provides a 90-day supply of some generics for $10 or $15.
  • Walgreens has a program that offers a 90-day supply of more than 400 generic drugs for $12.99. You have to pay an annual enrollment of $20 for individuals and $35 for families.

Pharmaceutical Makers Offer Free, Low-Cost Drugs

Many pharmaceutical manufacturers offer medication assistance to people who are unable to pay for them. Because each company has its own rules and policies, you will need to contact each one for more information. Here are some of the companies you can contact:

Abbott: 800-222-6885
Amgen: 800-272-9376
AstraZeneca: 800-292-6363
Bayer Schering Pharma: 800-998-9180
Boehringer Ingelheim: 800-556-8317
Bristol-Myers Squibb: 800-736-0003
Eli Lilly: 800-545-6962
Genentech: 866-4ACCESS
GlaxoSmithKline: 888-825-5249
Merck: 800-506-3725
Pfizer: 866-776-3700
Roche: 877-757-6243
Schering Plough Cares: 800-656-9485
Solvay Pharmaceuticals: 800-256-8918
Takeda: 800-830-9159
Wyeth: 800-568-9938

Organizations That Offer Drug Assistance

Several organizations also offer help:
  • You can contact a nonprofit cooperative called Partnership for Prescription Assistance to see if you are eligible for any of the hundreds of programs available that offer free or low-cost medications.
  • If you are not eligible for Medicare and have no prescription drug coverage, you may qualify for a discount prescription card with Together Rx Access.
  • Other resources include RxAssist, which provides information on how to access free or low-cost medications; and NeedyMeds.com, a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford health insurance.
  • For drug assistance with specific conditions, you can contact organizations that handle your particular health issue. For example, you may get financial assistance from the American College of Rheumatology (arthritis, lupus), the National Cancer Institute, or the AIDS Treatment Data Network.

All the information provided here is only representative. Ask your local retailers, as well as organizations and drug companies not on the above list, if they have drug assistance programs.

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Is it Strep Throat?

health secrets

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that typically affects children ages five to 10, although anybody can have strep throat. Other people are carriers of the strep bacteria, but do not show any symptoms.

What is Strep Throat?

The most obvious sign of strep throat is a sore throat, and white or yellow spots can often be seen in the back of the throat. Those affected may also have a fever, loss of appetite, or headache. Most sore throats are caused by viruses, which the body will defend on its own without antibiotics. A sore throat which worsens or persists should be checked by a doctor.

Occasionally, strep will show up in other areas of the body as well. Strep (and usually staph) can live in the nose and cause pain and bleeding inside the nose.

Is it Strep?

The only way to know for sure if someone is infected with the streptococcus bacteria is to have a test done in a doctor's office. A doctor who suspects strep will usually take two swabs of the throat, or infected area. He will use these for:

  • a rapid strep test done in his office. Results usually are ready in about 15 minutes.
  • a longer test, if the rapid test is negative. This test, performed in a lab, takes one to two days before results come back.

How Accurate is the Rapid Strep Test?

If the rapid strep test comes back positive, a patient knows that he has strep. A false negative occurs in up to a third of the rapid tests, according to kidshealth website, meaning that the patient has strep but the rapid test showed a negative result. This is why the second culture is often sent off for the longer test, and doctors will call when they get the result of that test.

Treatment of Strep

Antibiotics are usually prescribed for patients who have a positive strep test, which will take care of the strep as well as eliminate the chance of further problems from the infection, such as meningitis or pneumonia. It is important for patients to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if they are feeling better before they are done with the antibiotics.

Strep throat is contagious, so patients should avoid contact with an infected person. As with all viral and bacterial infections, frequent hand-washing can help prevent the spread of strep throat.

Streptococcus infections are a nuisance, but with a simple test, and a doctor's diagnosis, a patient will be feeling better following a short course of treatment.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome and How to Manage Your Symptoms

How IBS is Diagnosed?

Diagnosing IBS can be a lengthy and complex process, as no actual test for IBS exists. Many disorders of the stomach or bowel often have similar systems to IBS so must therefore be ruled out before any final diagnosis is made. When a patient consults their doctor with symptoms of IBS, the doctor will often refer the patient for tests for conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Occasionally in more severe cases, the patient may even be referred for a colonoscopy, an exploratory procedure of the bowel. Only when all other possibilities are ruled out can there be a diagnosis of IBS. Any abnormality in bowel movement or stools can be a sign of IBS.

Symptoms of IBS

The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, often described as colic-type pain, stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence and an urgency to go to the toilet. Other symptoms can include lower back pain, nausea, headaches, tiredness, mucus in stools and feeling particularly full after eating. Symptoms can vary depending on the person. Some people may only have a few symptoms and have periods where the symptoms flare up occasionally.

In more severe cases, IBS can be debilitating for the individual and has a profound affect their daily lives. It may prevent the sufferer from being able to go to work or do anything. Frequent flatulence in public or a sudden urgency to use the toilet and not being able to make it to the toilet on time may also be present and can be extremely traumatic on the sufferer.

What Causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is unknown; however, there are many theories to what causes the condition and triggers symptoms. The most popular theory is related to diet, primarily because food consumed has a direct impact on the gastrointestinal system. Food intolerances and certain foods which has a direct effect on the digestive system may trigger symptoms of IBS. There is a theory that IBS sufferers have a colon or large intestine, that is particularly sensitive and reactive to certain foods, and also to stress.

Evidence has shown that there is a connection between IBS and stress or anxiety. Many sufferers relate symptoms to stressful events in their life. The relationship between the gut and nervous system is complex and it has been claimed by many studies that there is a part of the nervous system in the gut. A bacterial infection in the gut is another popular theory for being a cause of IBS.

How IBS can be Treated

Treatment for IBS symptoms can vary and depends on the individual. What is considered effective for one individual may not be as successful for another. There is no actual treatment for IBS, but there are many methods which are recommended for treating the condition. One recommended method is consuming probiotics. Probiotics are found in dairy products such as yoghurts and cheese, or can be bought in capsules. They are nutritional supplements that contain good bacteria which lives in gut. Limiting consumption of spicy or rich foods, caffeine, and fizzy juice or alcohol is also highly recommended.

Other recommendations include regular exercise, drinking plenty of water or herbal teas, peppermint tea or peppermint water, and decaffeinated drinks.

Peppermint and oat-based foods like porridge, oatcakes or oat-based cereals are good for bloating. Anti-spasmodic medicines relax the wall of the gut and relieve pain and discomfort caused by trapped wind or inflammation. Treating each symptom separately is also effective. Relaxation and complementary therapy techniques such as yoga and avoiding stress as much as possible will also help ward off IBS symptoms.

Living With IBS

As anyone with any experience of IBS can testify, living with IBS is not easy but understanding and monitoring lifestyle and diet is a highly effective way of relieving symptoms and coping with the condition. It is recommended that when and how often flare-ups start be recorded in a diary and shown to a doctor as evidence so the symptoms can be more readily treated. A food diary is also recommended so that any any particular foods or drink that triggers an attack can be identified and known to be avoided in the future.

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Insomnia – An Overview of Causes and Treatments

insomnia

Defined as having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia affects 58% of U.S. adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Women are more susceptible to insomnia than men, and occurrences seems to increase with age. Those in lower socioeconomic groups appear to have an especially high incidence of insomnia, as do alcoholics.

Types of Insomnia

Many people experience an occasional day or even several days of insomnia, where sleep just won’t come, no matter how tired they are. This is known as “transient insomnia” and typically lasts for less than one week. With “acute insomnia,” sleep difficulties last slightly longer, but less than a month. Sufferers of “chronic insomnia” are unable to sleep or to sleep enough most nights for more than a month, to the point where it is affecting their relationships, their job and their wellbeing.

Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by certain medications, by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, by another condition such as menopause or asthma, or even by having too much caffeine. All of these causes are what is known as “secondary insomnia,” and most people with insomnia have this form of the condition.

When there is not a separate medical cause of sleep problems, a patient is said to have “primary insomnia,” which occurs in only about two in ten cases, according to the National Institutes of Health. Shift workers or anyone keeping a schedule that results in widely varying bed times are frequently plagued by primary insomnia and stress is believed to play a role in this type of insomnia.

Treatment of Insomnia

Lifestyle modifications are the first line of defense against insomnia and some doctors recommend a series of behavioral changes before prescribing medical treatment. Sufferers are advised to:
  • Avoid eating right before bed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol within eight hours of bedtime
  • Take a bath or find some other way to relax before going to bed
  • Don’t eat, read or watch TV in bed
  • Make sure the bed is comfortable
  • Keep the room darkened and quiet and the temperature cool
  • If sleep won’t come, get up and read in another room, don’t stay in bed
  • Try to stick to the same schedule every day for going to bed and getting up

For those with acute insomnia, lifestyle changes may be enough to help relieve the occasional sleep-related problems. That is likely not the case for chronic insomnia, however, which may require some other form of intervention, including pharmaceutical treatment.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach to relieving insomnia that involves re-training the body and mind to sleep at the appropriate and desired time. Working with a therapist, the insomnia patient will incorporate new behaviors into their daily routines and will learn relaxation techniques that target the anxiety that many with insomnia have about falling asleep. CBT has been proven effective, often more so than pharmaceutical therapy, particularly for long-term relief of insomnia.

Prescription medications are often used to treat insomnia and there are a variety of types available. Benzodiazepines such as Halcion and Restoril and non-benzodiazepines such as Lunesta and Ambien are well-known examples of prescription sleep-aids. These drugs can be effective for some people, but they are also associated with some serious side-effects, including sleep walking and daytime fatigue. Users can also develop dependence on some of these medications with long-term use.

Non-prescription and natural sleep remedies are also widely available for insomnia treatment. Perhaps the most well-known non-prescription sleep aid is melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone and its use as a sleep-aid has been demonstrated to be effective. Other products that are available over the counter are L-tryptophan supplements and valerian teas and extracts. Many sufferers find relief with these treatments, but the research on their effectiveness is limited. Over the counter antihistamines are also used frequently for inducing sleep.

Insomnia plagues many people and can take its toll on lives and relationships. But with proper attention, short bouts of insomnia can be kept from becoming long bouts and chronic insomnia can be finally resolved.

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