“ Brand: Ultracare / Type: Easy to use digital thermometer „
Despite bringing up my two oldest children and nursing them both through umpteen illnesses without the aid of a digital thermometer, when I had my youngest son I felt the twinges of maternal guilt and decided that I really ought to invest in one. Having managed for so long without a digital thermometer, I only really wanted to buy a fairly inexpensive model so I was inspired to purchase this rather basic thermometer from Ultracare having read a positive review on Dooyoo.
When the thermometer arrived, it was much smaller than I'd anticipated and very minimally (but securely) packaged, complete with a surprisingly sturdy plastic case which keeps the whole thing securely and hygienically covered including the probe. Its small proportions and slim probe looked ideally suited to use with small children. It was only when reading through the single sheet of fairly clear and informative instructions provided that I discovered something that I hadn't fully appreciated prior to purchase. Whilst this compact little thermometer boasts three different methods of taking temperature, the methods are actually orally, under armpits or rectally. I had mistakenly assumed that one of the three methods would be the typical in-ear method commonly used by GPs. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this basic model.
Like most parents of babies and toddlers, I find taking temperature readings via ear the easiest and least distressing method for very young children so this was a serious drawback, particularly as I had purchased this specifically for use with my youngest child who was only around seven months old at the time of purchase. Luckily, he was a few months older by the time that I needed to use this for him, but due to the methods involved, this was certainly not a very user-friendly thermometer for a poorly baby and the results I achieved reflected the difficulties that I experienced in actually taking a reading.
This Ultracare thermometer claims to be highly accurate but it can be extremely difficult to take a reading at all due to the length of the time the entire process actually takes, even for adults or older children. When used orally, the advice is to keep the mouth closed for five minutes or so, before even taking the temperature, in order to obtain an accurate reading. It then takes up to two minutes with the small metal probe end in the back of the mouth, for the correct reading to show. Obviously, this seems like a lifetime when dealing with a crying poorly child who isn't willing or able to co-operate with the process.
I must admit that I haven't tried using this rectally (as this was purchased as a shared family thermometer!) Taking the temperature via armpit is slightly easier as I can cuddle my little one tightly with the thermometer in place. It, again, takes a couple of minutes to take a reading which can still feel like an absolute age when seeking some reassurance for a poorly child. Unfortunately, despite being the easiest method for babies and toddlers, the enclosed instructions advise that this method is the least reliable.
Once a reading is obtained, the thermometer beeps several times to confirm a successful reading, with different sounding alarms used to indicate if the temperature is dangerously high or low. (Fortunately, I've never experienced this.) The temperature reading itself is clearly displayed on the small LCD screen and remains visible for several minutes, before automatically switching itself off to preserve battery life. There is also the useful addition of a display showing the last recorded temperature every time the thermometer is switched back on, which is handy if you are taking a temperature at regular intervals and want to check back on any deterioration or improvement.
The quality of the thermometer itself is fine. It has proven to be surprisingly robust, despite its rather slim and dainty appearance and it is relatively straightforward to use (with a willing patient) with just a single display and a single on/off button to operate. Certainly with use by an adult, I've found the readings to be consistent and reasonably accurate, helping to offer some reassurance or confirm fears. Sadly, the period when a thermometer is most frequently needed is during early childhood and this just isn't particularly user-friendly for babies or toddlers. I use this occasionally, more so on my older sons than my now troublesome two year old, but more often than not I resort to that good old-fashioned method of mother's instinct and a trip to the doctors for confirmation/reassurance.
I purchased this from Amazon almost two years ago and paid a total of £6.94, including postage costs, from a third party seller. The thermometer is currently available on Amazon for slightly less (around £5.25, inclusive of postage) again from a third party seller. This is clearly an inexpensive purchase and a handy inclusion for a home first aid kid and peace of mind but best suited for adults and older children, rather than a young family.
I'm happy to recommend this neat little thermometer as a budget option for adults but would advise any parents wanting to take the temperature of a baby or young child to invest in something a little more user-friendly for little ones, preferably with the inclusion of in-ear readings to minimise distress.
For years my travel first aid kit never really extended beyond asprin and Savlon, but then for years I never went anywhere that exotic. I certainly never had a thermometer with me when I travelled - in fact, I don't think I even had one in my proper medicine cabinet at home. But, it was one of the things on my "To Bring To Sierra Leone" list. I left it to the last minute, and almost went without one, but we were shopping in Asda a week before I flew and I spotted this Ultracare Digital Thermometer in the Lloyds Pharmacy attached to the store. It was £4.99 which seemed an ok price, and was at any rate the only model in stock, so I got it.
The reason we were told to take thermometers with us was because the most serious diseases (Malaria and Typhoid) typically present initially with an increasing temperature. In fact, in parts of Africa such as this, a temperature is Malaria until proven otherwise. The problem is, it's a hot part of the world and sometimes you can't tell whether you're hot because the sun is blazing, or hot because you're ill, so a good thermometer is the key tool for determining whether or not you need to dash to hospital.
In the past I've used normal mercury thermometers, and those fun, though I think often inaccurate, forehead ones. The thing that most appealed to me about this one was that the display is digital. There is no scope for error when reading it, as the temperature shows as a number on the little screen.
This thermometer comes in a plastic case which protects it from damage and keeps it clean and hygienic. It is easy to use: you press the button on the front which makes it beep. The first thing that flashes up is the last recorded temperature. This is VERY useful if you are tracking your temperature every hour but not writing it down. It measures to 1/10 of a degree (in Celsius) displaying for example 37.2 This may not seem much, but if you use it every hour, and your temperature is steadily increasing by, say, half a degree, it's enough to be concerned about. To turn it off you simply press the same button again, but if you forget it also has an auto-shut off feature which kicks in after a while, helping to prolong the battery life.
The thermometer can be used in 3 ways: under your tongue, under your arm or up your bum (though I'd advise against taking it all 3 ways every time - ick). You can clean the thermometer easily with a wet wipe or damp tissue - you only have to wipe the tip - which means it's easy to switch between people in a relatively hygienic way. On Boxing Day at the beach, a friend was feeling unwell. She took her temperature with the thermometer under her arm, and then gave it to me so I could do the same, as a sort of control (if we were both high or low, it could be a reflection of the fact the thermometer had been sitting in the sunshine rather than an indication that she was unwell). Obviously if you're using it rectally, it's less likely you'd want to share it like this...
The display is very easy to read (though usual LCD rules apply, and like a mobile phone screen it can be harder to see in bright sunlight). This is very important if you are feeling under the weather and monitoring yourself. One morning I was feeling grotty. I took my temperature which was normal, but when I didn't feel better a few hours later, took it again. My head was hurting and the last thing I wanted was to have to try to interpret a reading as you would with a mercury thermometer. Sure enough my temperature was raised, and over the next few hours it got higher and higher. Fast forward to later that day and I'm in hospital with Malaria. Chances are without the confirmation that I wasn't just hot but actually steadily increasing in temperature, I might have taken a chance and waited until the next day, which would not have been that sensible.
About 6 week's later on New Year's Eve I was feeling rough again so out came the Ultracare. This time it wasn't minor increments, it was a massive, slightly alarming jump within an hour and a half. I can imagine that without the reminder of the previous temperature I might have thought I'd been confused, and that the previous reading was, say, 37.5 C not 36 C. In that case, a later reading of 39 C would have been worrying, but not massively so. But, I had proof what it had been before, the ping told me what it was now, and off to the doctor I went again. I spent new year's in bed with Typhoid...
The only thing less than wonderful about this thermometer is the time it takes to get a reading. Sometimes it can seem like it's taking forever for the beep that comes to tell you it has finished. The fact that it varies in how long it takes is, I think, related to how quickly it can confirm a stable temperature, but just today when I was playing (Bogota is a Malaria free zone...this was for review purposes only) it did take 30 seconds which seemed a long time to me - imagine what it would feel like to a child. If it's under your arm this matters less, but if you have it in your mouth it can be a pain to sit there trying not to let it fall out - I tend to hold the other end to keep it steady. Before you use it orally you are advised to keep your mouth shut for a minute. I often forget this, but I don't think it matters if you are always consistent. I think the same goes for the accuracy. My resting, non-ill temperature with this tends to show as about 35.9 C which means I know that 37 C is a raised temperature for me when using this thermometer. The enclosed leaflet explains the normal ranges including the variations between how you use it (the range for armpit and mouth are slightly different).
Aside from this, I am a fan of the Ultracare. It is so simple to use and needs no preparation (you don't need to shake it before use or anything). It is very light weight and compact which makes it great for travelling, and the case is handy too. As stated earlier, I also like the accuracy of it and the degree to which it measures, plus that it reminds you of the last temperature taken: I got it out to play with today and had to think back to the last time I used it, many months ago, but the thermometer itself remembered the last temperature without a second thought.
Thermometers are often thought of in terms of sick children, and indeed this item was placed in the Kids Health category. I don't have children so have so far talked about it only in relation to my own health, but I think it would be invaluable for those with little ones at home for the same reasons - it's easy to read while you're trying to console a little one, and although it's been nowhere near my derrière, the fact that it can be used in this way is useful for infants who wouldn't keep their arms down or mouths shut long enough for the alternatives is great. It is a sturdy design, all plastic making it great for children who might think it fun to bite or snap a glass version.
Digital Thermometers vary wildly in price and while this one doesn't have any bells and whistles, I do think it is excellent value for money. I bought this in September 2010 and it has not changed in price since then.
You can buy this thermometer on the high street in chain or independent pharmacies, or from Amazon. It's not a name with which I was familiar but searching online I discovered it's a well established brand with a number of products in the range.