Product Type: Ultracare baby products
Newest Review: ... reflected the difficulties that I experienced in actually taking a reading. This Ultracare thermometer claims to be highly accurate but i... more
A TherMOMeter Not Just For Moms
Ultracare Digital Thermometer
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Ultracare Digital Thermometer
Advantages: Easy to use, auto shut off saves battery
Disadvantages: Readings can take a while
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.
Summary: A basic but useful part of any first aid kit, and suitable for travel too
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