Health-Care Basics: Spend or Save?
When to spend and when to save on eight essentials that affect your health every day.
Old-school mercury versions, which are hard to read and can break, have gone the way of the Walkman. An inexpensive digital thermometer (about $6) is the new classic and more than adequate for the average person. Two things to look for: a big, backlit display that's easy to see in a dark room, and a fast reading time of about 15 seconds, says Caroline Dorsen, a board-certified family nurse practitioner in New York City. Go for an under-the-tongue variety, as ear (or tympanic) thermometers are less reliable. A study done at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, found that parents using home tympanic models failed to detect a fever 25 percent of the time. If you have to check someone's temperature hourly, invest in a temporal artery (forehead) thermometer. It's even easier to use but a bit more expensive (about $35).