Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Health Tips for February 4

Health Tip: Taking Your Temperature

If you're taking your temperature, you should take steps to ensure that you're getting an accurate reading.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers these guidelines:

  • If using a thermometer by mouth, put it directly under the tongue and keep your mouth closed, holding the thermometer in place with your lips. Keep it in about three minutes if it's a glass thermometer, or until a digital thermometer beeps.
  • If measuring temperature underneath the arm, place the thermometer under the armpit, and hold your arm against your body for five minutes. This is not the best method for a glass thermometer.
  • If measuring a baby's temperature by rectum, place the baby on the stomach, and insert the thermometer with a small amount of petroleum jelly. Keep the child still, and remove the thermometer after about 3 minutes (or until it beeps).
  • Don't take your temperature within an hour of taking a bath or shower, or exercising strenuously.
  • If you've just had something to eat or drink, wait at least 20 minutes before taking your temperature.

Health Tip: Easing a Croupy Cough

Croup occurs when the larynx (voicebox) is infected by a virus. It is most commonly identified by a hoarse voice, tight breathing, and a low-pitched cough that sounds like a seal's bark.

The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital offers these suggestions to help soothe your child's croupy cough:

  • Let your child stand in a hot shower and absorb the steam (be careful that the water is not hot enough to burn).
  • While the child is in the shower, hold a wet washcloth near your child's face, and have the child breathe in.
  • Add warm water to a humidifier in your child's room.
  • To avoid pneumonia, it is important that your child cough up mucus that has built up in the lungs. So the idea is to promote a "productive" cough, the hospital says, not prevent a cough entirely.

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