It is always nerve wracking when your child is sick, even when you’re a pharmacist! How do you know when to head to the doctor and when you can handle an illness at home? On the one hand, you don’t want to overreact and lug a sick child to the doctor’s office where they can be exposed to germs lingering in the waiting room, but you also don’t want to miss something that could be serious.
Consider these tips for managing common childhood ailments and deciding when you should “make the call” to the doctor:
Keep in mind that fever is the body’s way of fighting infection. While it is scary when your child has a fever, most viral infections that cause fever, such as cold and flu, typically go away in a few days.
To help alleviate a fever, apply cool compresses to your child’s forehead – never put them in a cold bath because that can actually cause body temperatures to rise when the child shivers. Don’t give aspirin to children because it can increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome. If necessary for comfort, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your pharmacist about the right dose for your child’s age and weight. And give plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration – water, fruit juice, and broths are all good options.
See your doctor if your child has a fever above 104°F (40°Celsius), if it lasts longer than 2 to 3 days, is accompanied by neck or ear pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures, or if your child is unusually drowsy.
Vomiting and diarrhea
Like fever, diarrhea and vomiting are often signs that the body is fighting a bug. It’s trying to flush out and eliminate the foreign invader. While it’s unpleasant for both the child and the parents, in most cases, symptoms will resolve with some simple, at home measures.
With both vomiting and diarrhea, preventing dehydration is key. Give an oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte, which contains the proper balance of sugar, salt and water. Avoid sugary drinks like juice and soft drinks. For children who are vomiting, encourage them to drink fluids once the vomiting has stopped and eat a bland diet: crackers, toast, white rice, and bananas.
When your child has diarrhea, consider using DiaResQ – a Food for Special Dietary Use, which contains important nutrients and immune factors that work with your child’s body to help restore normal intestinal function. DiaResQ is safe for children as young as 1 year and has been clinically demonstrated to relieve pediatric diarrhea in as fast as one day.
Call your doctor if your child’s symptoms are severe, if there is blood in the vomit or stool, if they are experiencing a high fever or if the symptoms persist longer than 24 hours.
Cough and Cold
Kids typically get multiple cold episodes each year and one of the annoying symptoms that accompany a cold is cough. Again, the body’s natural way of dealing with a bug is to try and expel it.
For kids with minor cough and cold symptoms, there are some remedies in the pharmacy that can provide relief. Echinacea and Elderberry can help lessen symptoms and speed healing. Honey is helpful in providing relief for cough and sore throat, but should not be given to kids less than one year of age. You can also run a vaporizer in your child’s room and offer saline nasal drops to help with congestion. And encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids: warm broth and herbal tea are good options.
Call your doctor if your child has ear or neck pain, trouble breathing, or symptoms that last longer than 7 to 10 days.
Children tend to get frequent rashes. A rash can arise from contact with a food, detergent, soap, or any other irritant in their environment.
Most rashes are harmless and clear up on their own. Wash the rash with mild soap, but don’t scrub it, then rinse with warm water. Do not cover the rash, but you can put a wet cloth on it to ease the pain and itching. Use a cream that contains zinc, vitamin E, almond or coconut oil, which work to soothe, protect and recondition the child’s skin. Avoid products that contain phthalates, parabens, and sodium laurel sulfate.
Call the doctor if your child is younger than 6 months with a rash, has a fever along with the rash, or has a rash that oozes or appears red, swollen, or wet, which could be signs of an infection.
While having a sick kid can be stressful, these tips can help your little one feel better faster and help you determine whether you should head to the doctor or handle it at home.