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Seasonal Sickness – When to Call the Pediatrician

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Seasonal Sickness – When to Call the Pediatrician

Children get sick. It happens. Try to keep calm, take note of your kid’s symptoms, and as my pediatrician always says, trust yourself. I often err on the side of wait-and-see rather than panic and drive a sick kid to the pediatrician when he or she needs to drink fluids and rest, which is what she ends up telling me at least half of the time I bring them to her. My kids’ schools have recently been selected to participate in the Kinsa FLUency Program (ask your principal or school nurse), which is helpful to keep informed about what might be going around at school. I am not a doctor. I am a mom, one who has been right on about her kids’ health so far because I trust my pediatrician and I trust my gut.

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Although my kids are super healthy, I sometimes need to call the doctor. Sometimes I call (yes I do) because my husband insists, even though I think it’s fine. He hasn’t been a parent as long as me (he’s my second husband for those of you scratching your heads). Life and sickness come and go quickly! If he says call, I call, because even if I think things are fine, maybe his gut is working better than mine or maybe he just needs to be reassured by our trusted pediatrician.

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My kids always seem to come down with something at the beginning of each season. Thankfully, it’s usually in and out of the house right quick, but once in a while, I find myself picking up the phone. We have already survived our bout with the summer flu and the head cold from heck this fall (my youngest boy was seriously delusional with a fever of almost 103 on Thanksgiving). Since flu season is officially upon us and some states have already announced full-out infection, I thought others might need a word of advice from this veteran mom.

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Here are 5 signs your child is sick and needs to be seen by your pediatrician or your local urgent care center:

  1. Fever (over 100.4° F) for four days or longer, especially in concert with other symptoms. If your child is under age two, consider calling sooner, like on day two of a fever.
  2. Lack of urination/dehydration, or voiding less than two times in a day for older kids and lack of wet diaper for 6 to 8 hours in infants.
  3. Severe diarrhea (more than 8 stools per day) or mild diarrhea which lasts more than ten days.
  4. Vomiting that lasts longer than 24 hours, or in infants, more than 8 times in a day
  5. Coughing that is either painful to your child, lasts longer than 2 weeks, or causes vomiting or problems with breathing.

Communication is key

If you have an Au Pair, Nanny or regular babysitter, be sure to communicate with them about a sick child. Keep track (on a notebook) of medication amounts and time administered. This method is also very useful for pregnant or nursing moms who might not have the full concept of time in between their own lack of sleep. Try to keep a fever at bay by using ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and don’t worry about food, but keep the child hydrated. Try to get a feverish child to drink a teaspoon of liquid every 15 minutes, if they can keep it down. Your regular sitter or child care provider will be an important resource in determining how long your child’s symptoms have been present, especially if you have a way to keep the communication clear, even written down.

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Trust your gut

I must add that if I am worried about my child’s behavior, or whenever one of my kids seems particularly lethargic or just not themselves, or if ibuprofen doesn’t bring down a fever, I just call. Two decades of mothering has taught me if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. That is true for my own health too. When your gut tells you something is clearly not normal, even if the parenting book or Internet doctor or your neighbor Arlene says it is, trust your own self. The drive to the doctor’s office is worth it for my own peace of mind (and my husband’s), rather than the worry and wonder of “should I?” Trust your parenting gut and good luck surviving those surprise sick days!

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Featured photo credit: Rachel Bostwick via pixabay.com

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