What Is the Best Ear Thermometer for Accuracy and Ease of Use?

A woman on a beach preparing her ear to use the best ear thermometer.

When we need to take someone’s body temperature, it’s usually because they’re sick. Particularly with children, it’s important to get this information as quickly and as accurately as possible.

It can mean the difference between a trip to the doctor or—worst case scenario—a trip to ER and tucking the person in your care up in bed and letting them rest.

The most common way of taking someone’s temperature used to be with an old fashioned oral mercury thermometer. For many years now, experts have advised against their use due to the risk of breakage and the release of poisonous gases.

Advances in research and product design have led to the development of different devices to measure temperature. While anal readings tend to have the most accuracy overall, it’s an invasive procedure which not everyone is comfortable with.

An ear thermometer offers a great option for many different reasons. We explore what an ear thermometer is and how it works. We look into the research about the accuracy of these devices and how to choose the best ear thermometer for your needs.

Product
Details
Our Rating
Our #1 Rated
Forehead and Ear Thermometer

Paramed

Forehead and Ear Thermometer

4.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

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  • Digital forehead and ear thermometer
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Comfortable and easy to use

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #1 Rated

4.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category


Our #2 Rated
Happy Care Ear Thermometer

Enji

Happy Care Ear Thermometer

4 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

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  • Infrared digital ear thermometer
  • Ergonomic, easy to use design
  • Made in an FDA-approved facility

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #2 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category


Our #3 Rated
Medical Ear Thermometer

iProven

Medical Ear Thermometer

3.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

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  • Digital Ear Thermometer with Forehead Function
  • Good quality
  • Easy and fast to use

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #3 Rated

3.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category


Our #4 Rated
Digital Thermometer

Paryvara

Digital Thermometer

3.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

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  • Five-in-one digital thermometer
  • Ergonomic, angled design
  • Very easy to use

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #4 Rated

3.5 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category


Our #5 Rated
Digital Ear Thermometer

Braun

Digital Ear Thermometer

3 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

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  • Digital ear thermometer
  • ExacTemp positioning system for best accuracy
  • Large clear display screen

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #5 Rated

3 out of 5

In the Ear Thermometer category

What Is an Ear Thermometer?

An ear thermometer is a medical device which is lightly inserted into the ear canal. When used correctly, it takes a few seconds to monitor the temperature in the ear, then records and displays it.

While old style mercury thermometers worked on the rise in temperature causing an increase in pressure to move the mercury up the tube inside the thermometer, ear thermometers use newer technology.

There are a few different methods of sensing temperature. The most common is using a thermopile and infrared radiation to identify how much the body is giving off from the recessed ear canal, and convert this into an accurate temperature reading.

Scientists have identified the fact that a device that can accurately record the temperature inside the ear canal is a consistent and accurate indicator of core body temperature—and this is really important when it comes to treating many patients, particularly in severe accidents and emergency situations.

This brings us very neatly on to the next question we need answered…

Are Ear Thermometers Accurate?

Actually yes, they’re accurate. There’s evidence to suggest that the most accurate results are obtained from rectal readings, but one study compared the accuracy of taking temperature readings from the armpit, orally, scanning the forehead and taking a reading in the ear.

The research found that taking a reading in the ear was significantly more accurate than any of the other methods. Interestingly, the least accurate method was found to be measuring temperature at the forehead.

So if you’re caring for someone who’s sick and you need to record their temperature, one of the most accurate, as well as one of the least invasive ways to do it is using the best ear thermometer you can find.

Why Use an Ear Thermometer?

Body temperature is a great predictor of certain circumstances or events taking place in the bodies of babies, children, adults and even animals. It can help predict illness, monitor medical treatment effectiveness and make us aware of normal body cycles, such as ovulation.

But why specifically use an ear thermometer?

Aside from the high accuracy, which is obviously very important, there are a number of other advantages of using an ear thermometer.

One big plus, especially for smaller patients, is that it doesn’t hurt. If the probe happens to touch the inside of the ear, it can feel cold; perhaps slightly uncomfortable if someone isn’t feeling well, but it shouldn’t be at all painful for the patient.

In addition, the patient doesn’t have to actively maintain any device, such as holding a thermometer under their tongue (or inserted into any other part of their body). This means getting an accurate reading doesn’t require such a high level of patient compliance; people are more likely to cooperate in an easy, quick, painless procedure.

Using an ear thermometer is much more convenient than other methods of temperature recording. There aren’t usually any clothes to be removed to expose the ears. The whole procedure is less invasive than other methods of monitoring body temperature.

Fast results are the norm for ear thermometers. Usually, the probe only has to be maintained in the correct position for a few seconds—sometimes as little as one second—to get a reading.

This makes ear thermometers especially useful for children. As adults, even when we’re sick, we know we have to at least try to keep still while a temperature reading is being taken. Children, particularly when they are sick, often have no such social conditioning.

All they know is they don’t feel good, and they generally don’t want to do anything that makes them feel more uncomfortable. An ear thermometer can be placed gently in the ear for a few seconds while whispering words of reassurance in the other ear. In a jiffy, the best ear thermometer will give an accurate digital reading, and it’s all over with very little drama and upset.

Advice for Best Ear Thermometer Use

As with all medical electrical devices, use only as directed by the manufacturer. Following the correct procedure will make sure the temperature reading is as accurate as possible, and is essential for patient safety. Read all the instructions with regards to use, cleaning and maintenance.

Below, there’s a really straightforward, no-nonsense video which explains how to correctly use an ear thermometer:

Although ear thermometers only touch the inside of the ear canal lightly, there’s a chance of carrying bacteria to the next user. Make sure the ear thermometer is properly cleaned according to instructions before and after every use.

If it’s suspected that a high temperature is associated with an ear infection, the general advice is to use an alternative thermometer—not an ear thermometer. Similarly, they should not be used if the patient has an ear blockage or other condition.

It’s important to be aware that the presence of excess ear wax can lead to inaccurate and inconsistent readings. Always check the ear canal before inserting the probe to make sure it’s clear.

What Is the Best Ear Thermometer?

There are many different ear thermometers widely available on the market. They all do the same basic function, so it’s actually quite difficult to work out what separates the good products from the best ear thermometers.

To help you make an informed decision when buying an ear thermometer, we looked at an array of different makes and models, and chose five very popular products. They’ve all been examined in fine detail, and we’ve picked out all their good qualities as well as any negative points.

Somewhere in here, we’re confident you can find the best ear thermometer for you and your family.

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

Paramed

Forehead and Ear Thermometer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

At first glance, many people commented on the professional look of this thermometer. With the backlit display, readings were clearly visible in all lighting conditions, and many people reported very consistent readings. Most users found it easy to operate, even on grumpy, sick infants.

The most common negative comment was that several people found it frustrating to try to change units of temperature measurement. Other than that, the vast majority of people thought this was a good-quality, well-designed ear thermometer that was very good value for money.

Pros
Pro FDA approved.
Pro Calibrated for medical use
Pro highly accurate.
Pro 60-second auto shut-off function. Ergonomic design.
Pro Records and recalls the last 12 readings.
Pro 30-day money back guarantee.
Cons
Con Difficulty changing between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
 
 
 
 
 

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

Enji

Happy Care Ear Thermometer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

Although this is marketed as an ear thermometer for babies and children, many people reported that it was also very easy to use on adults, and even pets! It’s a neat little device; users liked the design and several said they thought it was pretty durable. The vast majority of people found this very easy and fast to use.

The main complaint about this thermometer was that people found it difficult to change the units from Celsius to Fahrenheit, or found their device malfunctioned. On the whole, though, people were very happy with this handy little thermometer. As the lowest priced product in our range, most users thought it was a bargain, an ideal to keep for use at home.

Pros
Pro Memory storage for last 10 readings.
Pro Auto shut-off function.
Pro Includes storage case
Pro no probe caps needed.
Pro 100 percent money back guarantee.
Cons
Con Difficulty changing units
Con a few devices malfunctioned.
 
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

iProven

Medical Ear Thermometer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

This ear thermometer was a big success with many people, who found it very easy to operate. Clinically calibrated for premium accuracy, there were lots of comments that results obtained were very consistent. Many users were pleasantly surprised to find that most readings only literally took a second to obtain.

People found the option of the dual-reading methods very convenient, and also liked the reassurance of the fever alarm in the event of abnormally high readings, and the memory recall for previous readings. It’s the most expensive thermometer of the five, but is still pretty affordable, and most people thought it would be durable enough for several years of use.

Pros
Pro Clinically tested and calibrated.
Pro Memory recall of last 20 readings.
Pro No need for disposable probe covers.
Pro 100-day hassle free money back guarantee.
Cons
Con More expensive than other models.
 
 
 

Our #4 Rated
Our pick our #4 rated

Paryvara

Digital Thermometer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

This is a very handy digital thermometer which can take ear, oral, armpit and rectal readings as well as forehead readings. Parents found the forehead reading especially helpful when dealing with sick, restless children, and many reported consistent results which appeared to be very accurate. Many people reported that this thermometer was also comfortable during use —hardly noticeable, in fact.

One or two users reported getting inconsistent results on some occasions, but far more people were delighted with the consistent, reliable results. Many users liked the compact, lightweight design and clear display. At a price that falls in the mid-range of the product reviewed, most people thought this thermometer was reasonably priced.

Pros
Pro Can read ear
Pro forehead
Pro oral and rectal temperature.
Pro Memory recall function for the last 20 readings.
Pro Results in Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Pro Fever indicator.
Cons
Con One or two users reported some inconsistent results.
 
 
 
 
 

Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

Braun

Digital Ear Thermometer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

People thought this device was very good quality, which explains why it’s used in many hospitals. Impressively, this well-established manufacturer states its ear thermometer has been proven to be more accurate than oral or rectal thermometers. People liked the pre-warming of the flexible ear probe, which many users reported made taking readings very comfortable.

The one downside mentioned by a few users is that the screen isn’t backlit, so taking temperatures during the night requires an external light source for obtaining results. The guidance system for correct positioning worked well for many people. Overall this is a great device from a reputable supplier, and while it’s a little more expensive than other similar products, most people thought it was worth every penny.

Pros
Pro Suitable for babies
Pro children and adults.
Pro Memory function to recall the last reading.
Pro Includes 21 disposable probe covers.
Cons
Con No backlight for reading results in dark conditions.
 
 
 

Our Choice

Deciding to buy an ear thermometer can be a great idea for many people to keep in their home. It can provide fast, accurate information when adults, children or even pets are sick. Alternatively, people may need to take their temperature for another reason, such as monitoring ovulation.

Ear thermometers are all pretty similar in design and function, so it’s not always easy to pick a good quality one off the shelf. Lots of people liked all five of the products we reviewed, but the one that emerged as the best ear thermometer was the Paramed Digital Forehead and Ear Thermometer.

There were a lot of reasons why people particularly liked this ear thermometer more than others. Firstly, people liked the ergonomic design, and found it lightweight enough to position easily. Once in position, the clear buttons and ease of use means some people had no problems even when taking their own temperature.

Many users commented on the good overall design of this device, and thought it was well made from durable materials. The clear easy to read, backlit screen was pretty much the icing on the cake to top this off as the best ear thermometer we could find.

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