When to take your child to the doctor

Is your child sick enough to take him to the doctor?  That is a question many of us ask ourselves, especially if you are sitting with your first babe in arms.  Years of visiting emergency rooms, pediatricians and house doctors have given me some confidence in judging when to and when not to. Please see this as a general guideline and rather trust your gut feeling then to strictly adhere to a list of indicators.

  • Fever : Most mommies become really concerned at the onset of fever. A fever shows us that the body is fighting an ailment. If the fever is more than 100.4 F in your newborn, more than 101F in your 3-6 month old or for older children more than 104F, I would definitely go and seek medical advice. A low-grade fever lasting more than 3 days indicates that it might be more than a viral infection that would clear up on it’s own. Any dramatic rise in temperature (5 degrees in an hour) merits a doctor’s visit.  I do not refer to a fever that rises four degrees over a period of 6 hours.
  • Rash: Rashes are the one thing in my experience that cause most predicaments. We all know that the presence of a rash might signal a childhood illness like measles, chickenpox, rubella or worst of all meningitis. Luckily most rashes are benign and only indicate an allergy. When a rash is painful, raised, warm to the touch, bright red/purple or spreads quickly over the whole body, it is time to visit your doctor.
  • Coughs : A persistent cough that does not clear up within two weeks needs a doctor’s inspection. Any cough or congestion that inhibits breathing is not something to wait out.
  • Colds and Flu: Cold and flu symptoms that do not respond to over-the-counter medications within 10 days, should be addressed by a doctor.
  • Focal Symptoms : When your child complains about something specific like earache, a soar throat or tight chest, I would recommend to go and visit the doctor as it might need some antibiotics. Any discharge from your child’s ear or eye should be looked at.
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea : A child who vomits and has diarrhea for more than 12 hours stands a chance to dehydrate. In a newborn dehydration can happen in less than an hour. If our child is not able to hold any fluids in it is necessary to seek medical advice. Vomiting blood is a danger sign and warrants immediate medical attention.

Other symptoms to look at include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Terrible headaches
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Loss of control of any body part
  • Stiff neck
  • Inability to walk normally
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Blood or mucous in stool
  • Pus from a cut or scrape.

So what can be treated at home?  I feel that minor cut and scrapes and insect bites can be treated at home.  Mommies are more than capable to treat flu and colds at home.  Low fevers can be dealt with at home with Tylenol.

You know your child better than any doctor.  Do not feel bad for going to the doctor when you feel it is necessary and it is dismissed as nothing serious.  From personal experience I do know that in the end Mommies know best.  It might take a couple of visits to the doctor or a hospital stay to prove the point.