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Clues That You Have the Flu

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Alissa Clark is a wife, stay-at-home mother of two young girls, and, in the battle against the flu, family nurse.

Among the signs you may be coming down with something is an elevated body temperature, and a thermometer is a relatively inexpensive diagnostic tool that no home should be without.

"The thermometer is sort of like a first indicator, like, 'Is this something that's serious?'" Clark said.

A doctor-favored model is the in-ear thermometer. Available at most pharmacies, it's the simplest to use and may cause the least discomfort for a patient. But at $20, it is also the most expensive. Oral and rectal thermometers are less accurate but are about $10.

"Any spike in body temperature is pretty noticeable, no matter what kind of thermometer you are using," said pharmacist Jim Gotta, who works at Country Store&Pharmacy in Sartell, Minn. "You're going to see quite a jump in temperature if you have the H1N1 flu."

Clark has used an ear-based thermometer with a digital readout to take her children's temperature with a minimum of fuss and resistance on her daughters' part.

"Her temperature ended up being just under 99.9 degrees or something, and so that's not usually a (health) issue," she said. "But if it ever gave me a reading of something that felt like an upper range - like a 101, 102 - then I would definitely head to the doctor."

Oral thermometers take longer to take a body's temperature and must be placed under the tongue - something that young children may have little patience for.

"They are the old standby. Those are the longest-used thermometers as far as number of years, and very, very reliable, but some people put them under their arms in their armpits, and that doesn't give as accurate of a reading," Gotta said of today's mercury-free thermometers.

Clark has used a rectal thermometer to take a temperature when her children, now toddlers, were younger.

"But when they got older, that was not as fun for any of us," she said with a chuckle.

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