How Many Kinds of Thermometers Are There?

There are six different types of thermometers. They include digital thermometers, digital ear thermometers, digital pacifier thermometers, temporal artery thermometers, temperature strips and mercury thermometers.

Digital thermometers take the body’s temperature through electronic heat sensors, and an individual's body temperature may be taken orally or rectally with this thermometer. Digital ear thermometers, also called tympanic thermometers, use an infrared ray to detect the temperature inside the ear. A pacifier thermometer is used just as a child’s pacifier and is placed in the mouth to record temperature.

Temporal artery thermometers measure temperature by using an infrared scanner to find body temperature. The infrared scanner works by scanning the temporal artery in the forehead. Temperature strips are filled with crystals that are liquidized, and the strip is placed on the forehead. Once it registers the temperature, it changes color.

Mercury thermometers work by using mercury that has been encased in glass to measure the body’s temperature through the mouth, rectum or armpits. Once a staple in medicine cabinets, mercury thermometers are no longer recommended for use because they have a tendency to break and cause mercury to spill. When this happens, the user often inhaled the mercury, which is hazardous. When a mercury thermometer breaks, it should not be thrown away in the garbage bin. Instead, it needs to be disposed of at a hazardous waste site by a trash collection program.