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Taking Your Temperature? Lay Off the Snacking

Food and drink beforehand can skew the results, new study finds

SATURDAY, Jan. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new nurses' study finds that prior drinking and eating can alter body temperature readings gleaned from an oral thermometer.

On average, a person who drinks a cold beverage takes about 15 minutes to return to their baseline temperature, while the return to baseline takes about 23 minutes after someone has had a hot beverage, the study found.

"Taking an accurate temperature is one of the most basic, yet at times complicated, pieces of data we can collect to monitor our health and the health of our loved ones," research project coordinator Beth Quatrara, of the University of Virginia Health System, said in a prepared statement.

Her team recommends that folks refrain from eating and drinking in the minutes before taking their temperature.

To obtain the most accurate reading, people having their temperature taken should also refrain from activities that may change mouth or body temperature, such as exercise, chewing gum or smoking.

These rules aren't only for health workers and patients, but also for people tending to sick loved ones at home.

The findings were presented at the recent annual meeting of the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about taking your child's temperature.

SOURCE: University of Virginia Health System, news release, Jan. 17, 2006
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