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My Baby is SICK – When to Contact Your Pediatrician and What to Say
As a new parent, it’s sometimes hard to know when your child is sick enough to need medical attention and when you’re just overreacting.
Does your concern come from being a normal, beginner parent with a lot of worry and very little experience? Or is your child really sick?
Of course, you don’t want to make a mistake with your child’s health!
Here are some points that can help you determine when to call the doctor. As always, if you are really worried and need reassurance, feel free to call your pediatrician for advice.
Understand that she/he is used to this cycle and that your doctor knows that if they can educate you, you will be a better parent and their investment will pay off. If you meet a pediatrician who is less than understanding when he receives your phone call, FIND A NEW DOCTOR!
When you call your doctor, his advice will depend on the following general criteria:
The severity of your child’s symptoms
The frequency of your child’s symptoms
The doctor can give you a temporary solution to tide you over until you can get to the office, and can tell you to call the office to make an appointment. Or, he can tell you to go to the emergency room if the symptoms or health problem is more severe and needs immediate attention.
The important thing to remember is not to panic. Be prepared to answer questions (we’ll get to that in a minute) and call your doctor’s office line. If you call at night, you will receive an answering service and the doctor will call you back or refer you to an “emergency pager” number.
If your child shows any of the following symptoms, it is wise to call your pediatrician.
Fever – While it is common for children between 2 and 12 months to develop a mild fever, your doctor will decide if your child should be examined or if you will only monitor and treat the symptoms of the fever.
Vomiting or Diarrhea – Babies sometimes have loose stools (especially if breastfed), and all babies “spit up”. If these symptoms are frequent or severe, you should call your doctor. If your child has had diarrhea or vomiting for a day or two, your doctor will be concerned about dehydration.
Upper Respiratory Infections, Colds – Colds and viruses can be uncomfortable for a child, but they are usually not a concern. However, if your child has problems breathing, or problems eating because he cannot breathe through his nose, or if your child is coughing or congested, you should call your doctor.
Ear or eye problems – If your child pulls on his ear or doesn’t seem to respond to your voice as usual, he may have an ear infection or congestion. This may be associated with fever and/or upper respiratory infection. Likewise, if your child’s eyes are swollen or if you see a discharge from the eyes, call your doctor.
Cuts, Bumps, Bruises – When your baby starts to crawl and walk, it is likely to have a minor cut or bump occasionally. If you don’t know how to treat these minor wounds or if the cut seems to be taking a long time to heal, call your doctor.
General Changes in Habits – If your child’s appetite, sleep patterns, mood or motor skills seem to change drastically and if these changes are persistent, call your doctor. If your child is lethargic or irritable at the time of day when he would otherwise be active or playing, and if these changes are persistent, call your doctor. If your child develops a rash all over his body or an unexplained rash (not diaper rash), call your doctor. Likewise, if your child’s skin tone changes (developing a yellow color) call your doctor. This will typically happen in the first few weeks after you bring him home and could be a sign of jaundice, which is not unusual but needs treatment.
If your child has any of these symptoms, you should consider this an emergency and immediately call 911 or take your child to an emergency room (Do not try to drive your child to the Emergency Room if you are alone with the child). You need someone in the car with you to care for your child while you drive.
In the event that you and your child are alone when the emergency occurs, stay calm and call 911.
Seek emergency treatment if your child:
Swallowed an unknown substance or a poisonous substance (such as a household cleaner)
Having seizures or not responding
If your child has a serious wound or cut that won’t stop bleeding or that may require stitches
If your child has real breathing problems (labor, wheezing or severe wheezing), and / or his skin tone is bluish or gray in color (look at the nails and lips, because that’s where you see first these signals).
If your child has a high fever (100.4 F rectal for 0-3 months, or 102 F or more when taken by ear or mouth in children older than 3 months)
If your child has suffered a head injury (with or without bruising or external signs) and seems to be dizzy, dizzy, vomiting or sleepy or unresponsive.
If your child can’t move or has trouble moving arms or legs or controlling motor skills they’ve already mastered
If your child is choking or seems not to be breathing
When you contact a medical professional or take your child for emergency care, you are expected to provide answers to questions that will help doctors, nurses and EMTs better care for your child.
Keep calm and be prepared to answer these questions:
How old is your child
Your child has any known medical conditions or problems (including allergies to medications and/or foods)
What are your child’s symptoms (how long has it been, how often (if vomiting/diarrhea, etc.)
How your child responds (crying, upset, no response)
Who is your paediatrician? his advice)
When was your child’s last doctor’s appointment? Do you have another scheduled soon?
Has your child been immunized? How little, and for what? Has your child had a tetanus shot? If so, when?
What changes have you noticed in your child’s regular schedule lately, if any? (food, bowel or urinary habits, sleep, mood, etc.)
Has anyone with a health problem or contagious disease been near your child recently? Have you fed your baby something different recently, or have you been given a new medication.
Finally, be prepared to provide medical coverage information and the name of the pharmacy you use for your prescriptions.
The bottom line for all parents of children aged 1-12 months is to stay calm in case your child has a health crisis or problem. At this young age, your child is unable to take care of his own needs and depends on you to make the right decisions. You don’t want to be scared! Call your doctor if you feel you should, and let your intuition guide you in this regard. And, if it’s an emergency, take your child to a doctor immediately!
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