Having a child who is sick can be extremely nerve wracking. If you yourself are feeling sick, you can be the judge of the type of help you need, or — more likely if you’re a parent who has humans depending on you for their livelihood — suck it up and ignore the pain until it gets better by itself. However, when your baby is sick, having their health and well-being outside of your grasp of control is terrifying. Watching them suffer is heartbreaking. Not knowing how to best take care of them is one of the more stressful positions to be in as a parent.
While it is impossible to prevent your baby from ever feeling under the weather, knowing what to do when they feel ill will give you confidence in the midst of their struggle. We can’t cover every single specific health condition your child might incur, however here’s a quick overview of the common ones:
- When to treat at home.
Even if your child looks and feels miserable, not every health condition requires medical help. Unfortunately, many of the common childhood illnesses have to just run their course. The doctors can’t do anything to change that. What you have the power to do is to keep them comfortable until their bodies kick the illness on their own:
- When your child is running a low grade fever (below 103 degrees for children over six months, and below 100.4 degrees for children under six months), administer the recommended dosage of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and discomfort. Call a doctor if their temperature rises above that or does not respond to medication.
- If your child has diarrhea, encourage them to drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated; the biggest risk of diarrhea is dehydration. Call a doctor if they do not produce at least one wet diaper (or potty break) every eight hours, as this is a sign of dehydration.
- The inevitable occurrence of the common cold can be treated with rest, vitamin D, and chicken soup. Encourage them to cover their mouths when they cough and wash their hands frequently to prevent the spread of it. Call a doctor if they exhibit signs of an ear, sinus, or bronchial infection as a result of the cold. Caution: If your child’s cold leads to difficulty breathing, you should take them to an urgent care facility or the emergency room for extreme circumstances.
- When to see a doctor.
Always follow your gut; when something just doesn’t seem right, or you’re not sure the best way to take care of your child, get them into the doctor’s. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. When your child’s condition requires prescription medication (most commonly antibiotics), getting them into the doctor as soon as possible will reduce their discomfort.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a child’s condition warrants a trip to the doctor’s or not. When in doubt, call your health provider and ask if they should be seen.
- When to bypass the doctor’s.
If a child is extremely uncomfortable and you aren’t able to get a same day appointment, you might be able to get the help you need at an urgent care facility right away. Common reasons to take a child to an urgent care facility include:
- Ear infections
- Bronchitis (the most common reason patients visit an urgent care facility)
- Pink eye
- Urinary tract infections
- Flu symptoms
- Potential bone fractures
These common urgent illnesses require immediate attention, but are usually not life threatening emergencies.
- When to go straight to the emergency room.
No parent wants to be faced with having to choose if a child should be taken to the emergency room. However, knowing when this is the best course of action could potentially save their life. You should go straight to the emergency room if:
- Your child is bleeding profusely.
- They are struggling to breath.
- They lost consciousness.
- They sustained a serious head or neck injury.
- Your internal instinct tells you the emergency room is the best place for your child’s condition.
Every parent lives in fear of a child being sick or injured. While you can’t prevent it from ever happening, knowing what to do in the midst of the crisis will ensure they get they help they need. To learn more, read this.