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What is a smart fever thermometer?

Smart fever thermometers — often shortened to just smart thermometers — offer a bit more versatility than the thermometers of yesterday. Instead of simply reading your body temperature, smart thermometers can give you guidance on how to heal faster, determine if you truly have a fever, and track several statistics, among other useful features.

If you’re new to the world of smart thermometers and are looking to take your health to the next level, here’s a closer look at what smart thermometers are, how they work, and if they’re worth the investment.

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How do smart thermometers work?

Somebody using a Withings Smart Thermometer with their smartphone.

Much like standard thermometers, smart thermometers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also read temperatures in a bunch of different ways. Some must be placed under your tongue, others offer no-touch screening methods, and a handful will even take readings using your ear. In other words, smart thermometers read temperatures just like most regular thermometers.

However, smart thermometers gain an advantage over their non-smart competitors when the reading phase is over. With a traditional thermometer, this is where their functionality ends. They simply read your temperature, and then it’s up to you to take the next steps and keep track of the readings.

With a smart thermometer, these readings are automatically cataloged in an accompanying smartphone app. This makes it easy to keep track of your health and see if your temperature is getting worse or starting to break. Most apps will also let you input your own notes with each reading, such as symptoms you’re experiencing or the last time you took any medication.

Depending on which smart thermometer you’re using, they can also recommend what your next steps should be. This could include staying home and resting or rushing off to the doctor if your reading is cause for concern. Some will even connect you with a remote doctor or remind you when it’s time to take your next dose of medicine.

Are smart thermometers accurate?

Kinsa Smart Thermometer

Yes. Since smart thermometers measure temperatures just like a traditional thermometers, there’s little difference between the two. Keep in mind that you might get variances depending on how you measure (for example, taking your temperature under your tongue could yield a different reading than under your arm), and determining how you measure your temperature will likely be dictated by the product you buy.

No measurement locations are necessarily better than the others, but if you (or your family) have a preference as to how to take your temperature, you’ll want to pay close attention to how each product works. Most measurement methods are safe for adults, but many aren’t recommended for children. Be sure to consult your physician if you have any questions about how to take temperature readings.

Are smart thermometers worth buying?

A person reading a baby's temperature with a smart thermometer.

Smart thermometers take the guesswork out of the equation. They’ll let you know immediately if someone is running a fever and — depending on the severity — if a trip to the doctor is required. That peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on, especially if you have young ones running around the home. Smart fever thermometers are incredibly popular with parents, and you’ll find no shortage of products marketed to that sector.

While smart thermometers are an easy recommendation for parents or people at higher risk for illness, they’re still a great investment for families outside those categories. Not only do smart thermometers offer a bevy of useful features, but there are plenty of affordable models in today’s marketplace.

A traditional thermometer might run you around $10, but for an extra $20 you can pick up the Kinsa Smart Thermometer which brings heaps of functionality to the table, including data tracking, treatment recommendations, and the ability to set up individual profiles for each family member. It can even sync with Teladoc to help physicians make a diagnosis without ever having to leave your home. If you need help with your search, consider checking out our roundup of the best thermostats.

What to look for when buying a smart thermometer

Not all smart thermometers are alike. If you’ve decided to pick one up, there are a few key requirements to check for prior to making a purchase. The most important thing to check is that the product is FDA-approved. If the FDA has approved the device, then you can rest easy knowing it’s safe for your family.

Beyond FDA approval, you’ll also want to pay attention to how each thermometer measures temperatures, how long it takes to complete a reading, and what sort of perks are offered by the accompanying smartphone app. Some smart thermometers are smarter than others, and you’ll want to make sure your potential purchase can meet all your needs.

If you have any questions or concerns about a certain product, be sure to consult your physician. But as long as you’re using an FDA-approved product, a smart thermometer is a great addition to any medicine cabinet.

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