When to Call the Doctor If Your Child Is Sick


For many families the winter months seem to bring never ending bouts of coughs, colds and runny noses. While many people think that we tend to get sicker during the winter because of the cold weather (or because of not wearing a jacket outside), that’s simply not the case.

During the winter months, we may experience an increase in illness in our families because we are indoors more and we tend to be around more people when we are. When we stay indoors (and close up our houses to keep the cold weather out) we are coming into contact with more microorganisms that cause illness. We come into contact with these organisms by touching contaminated items or by breathing contaminated air.

While washing yours and your children’s hands often and keeping everyone hydrated and well rested can help keep your family healthy during the winter months, how do you know when an illness warrants a call to the doctor’s office or just some tender loving care?

In my newest book, A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money and Sanity, I included a handy reference list that can help you determine if you should call the doctor.

When to Call the Doctor

Many parents wonder when they should call the doctor. You should always call the doctor if your child is lethargic, unresponsive, refusing to eat, has an unidentifiable rash, is having difficulty breathing or if your child has a fever lasting more than a few days. Most pediatricians’ offices have a “nurse’s line” that parents can call to get medical advice. Take advantage of this helpful resource.

10 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

1. A temperature in a young baby. If your baby is younger than 2 to 4 months old and has a fever (over 99.4 orally or 100.4 rectally) call the pediatrician immediately.

2. A prolonged temperature in an older child. A child with a fever for more than 72 hours or a child who has a fever and is fussy or lethargic should be evaluated by the doctor.

3. Dehydration due to vomiting and/or diarrhea.

4. Persistent vomiting or any vomiting with blood, bile or vomiting that is green or projectile.

5. Bloody stool.

6. A lethargic child, a confused child, a child who seems excessively sleepy or a child who just seems “off”.

7. Difficulty or noisy breathing.

8. A child who complains of a belly ache.

9. Limping or any other indication of an injury.

10. Significant swelling or bruising.

What is Croup?

Croup is a common illness that occurs in children. Many parents hear the term “croup” but don’t really know what it is. So what is croup?

Coughing that sounds like a seal bark could indicate a viral illness called croup. To treat croup, bring your child outdoors to breathe cold air or into a steamy bathroom to breathe moist, warm air. If this does not help, call your doctor.

Michelle LaRowe, A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, January, 2010. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group. http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.



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