Parenthood is the ultimate guessing game: when to wait and when to act? Are they hungry or tired? Are they sick or grouchy? What should you do? But without question, the most important question we have to ask ourselves is, is our child okay? A lot of the most common illnesses such as the stomach flu or the common cold are easily treated at home. But what happens when you suspect that your child is getting worse and you don’t know what to do? Here is a list of what to look for when assessing your child.
Signs Your Child Should See a Doctor
Many illnesses, especially viruses, can be treated at home through lots of rest and plenty of fluids. However, there are times that simple colds or flus can get out of hand, especially in our child’s developing immune system. So when should you call the doctor?
- Your child’s cold is getting better then takes a turn for the worse
- Your child’s cough lasts longer than 10-14 days
- They are running a persistent fever that won’t come down (even with medication) longer than 24 hours.
- Your child is vomiting and cannot hold down fluids longer than 12 hours
- Your infant under 3 months has a rectal temperature at or above 100.4, your 3-6 month old has a temp. above 101 F., or an infant above 6 months has a temp. above 103 F
- If you are ever concerned about their behavior, growth and development, or illness, take them in to the doctor immediately. You know your child best and ultimately will know when something is wrong.
Signs You Should Take your Child to the Emergency
A visit to the hospital often indicates an emergency, but can also be necessary if you feel your child cannot wait until the morning for antibiotics or medical attention and no walk-in clinics are available. If your child does not meet the criteria but at any time you feel uncertain or concerned, you should bring them in immediately. Doctor’s and nurses are very used to parent’s bringing their children in just to “make sure” everything is okay. It is always better to be safe than sorry. However, if your child is showing any of the signs or symptoms below, you should take them in immediately.
- Your child is listless, limp, or dazed.
- Your child has a fever and is rigid
- Your child is having trouble breathing, gasping or wheezing for air
- Your child has a very high fever (over 103 F) that won’t come down with either acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Your child is showing signs of dehydration (their skin stays when you pinch it, they are not urinating every 6 hours, if a baby’s fontanel is swollen, they are not producing tears, etc.)
Signs and Symptoms to call 911 Immediately
There are situations where a child simply cannot wait to drive to the hospital, they need medical attention right now. Ambulance attendants are well prepared to deal with emergencies both at your house and during the trip to the hospital. If ever you are in doubt, please call them immediately, in an emergency situation you will always be glad you did.
- Your child is having difficulty breathing and their lips are blue
- Your child is or has gone unconscious
- Your child is or has had a seizure or febrile convulsions (a seizure brought on by a high fever)
- Your child goes in to cardiac arrest
- Your child has been injured and is bleeding badly and needs attention right away
In most situations, it is safe to drive your child to the hospital yourself or even wait to see the doctor the next day. But no matter what the situation, don’t feel embarrassed if you over-reacted. Parenting is a learning experience and you will know better for next time. If there is ever an instance where you disagree with the doctor (aka they send you home and you feel your child needs medical attention), I strongly urge you to push your case. You are your child’s only advocate. Trust your instincts and request that steps be taken on your child’s behalf.