Hey Loves! I hope everyone is having a great week. I always get the question, does being a pediatrician make you worry more or less about your children? To be honest with you, I think it is a little bit of both. I am more comfortable dealing with viral illness and minor bumps and bruises, but my knowledge of different diseases and serious illness always makes me worry about the worst case. I do have the luxury of knowing what needs immediate attention, what can be treated with Motrin or Tylenol, or what things can wait until the next day to see if there is improvement. The fear of the unknown brings tons of parents to the ER daily. It is hard to know when a temperature is considered dangerous, what type of belly pain is serious, and when it is appropriate to call your doctor at 3am. So today I would like to take a moment to answer some common questions parents have regarding child emergencies and when to go to the emergency room or seek consultation with your pediatrician.
When does Dr. Katie think it is necessary to have your child evaluated immediately by a doctor? Today we will discuss some of the common symptoms of more serious illnesses but unfortunately we can’t possibly cover them all. I have never told a parent that it was a mistake to bring their child in to be evaluated. The reality is this, once you become a parent, you develop what I like to call, “mommy or daddy instinct.” If your instinct is telling you something is not right, you should immediately have your child evaluated. If you have them evaluated and the doctor tells you they are okay, but you still feel there is something very wrong, get them re-evaluated. As parents, we are our children’s only voice! It is important to be aggressive when it comes to your child’s healthcare. So let’s get started!
Fever in a newborn. It is extremely important to understand that illness and fever in the first three months of life can be very dangerous. A fever for a one month old is very different than a fever for a 2 year old. If your newborn feels warm or there is a change in their feeding or sleeping pattern, it is important to take their temperature immediately. The most accurate way to take a temperature is using a rectal thermometer. Anything above 100.4 degrees is a fever and must be addressed immediately. You should contact your pediatrician and take your baby straight to the nearest emergency room or your pediatrician.
Fever that is not responding to medication or a fever lasting a long time. We have many parents that come to ER because they have treated their child’s fever with medications and the fever is not resolving. It is extremely important that you have the right dosing of Tylenol and Motrin. If you are having trouble controlling the fever, call your pediatrician and make sure the dose you are giving it correct. If you are giving the appropriate dose and the temperature won’t budge, it is important to have you child evaluated. A fever from a cold or virus can last over 5 to 7 days, however, if fever persists longer, it warrants a trip to the doctors office to determine why the fever isn’t resolving.
Severe headache with or without fever. There are many things that can cause a headache, some less serious than others. If your child is experiencing an extremely painful headache that isn’t responding to the appropriate dose of pain reducer, it is important to go to the emergency room and have your child evaluated, especially if that headache is accompanied with fever, vomiting, and most importantly neck pain. These could be signs of meningitis. In addition, if your child has experienced a head injury and is complaining of headache or is vomiting, immediately take them to the closest ER.
High fever with drooling and inability to swallow. All children have a difficult time swallowing while fighting a sore throat. However, if your child has a change in their voice, inability to swallow their own saliva, or high fever, an immediate evaluation is warranted.
Difficulty breathing. I would say that after fever, cough is the next most common complaint we see in the emergency room. When children are fighting a cold their body’s natural defense is to cough. Cough is more concerning when it is coupled with high fever or difficulty breathing, which requires immediate attention. If your child is complaining of chest tightness, difficulty breathing, or you notice that they are breathing faster than usual, you should bring your child to the doctor to be evaluated.
Sudden belly pain. Depending on your child’s age, sudden belly pain can be many different things. GI bugs can cause abdominal pain associated with vomiting and diarrhea. However, if your child is complaining of persistent pain, especially if the pain is located on the right lower side, it can be a sign of an appendicitis. Many underlying disease and illness can present with vomiting. It is important to have your child evaluated if they are experiencing abdominal pain and vomiting. Also, an important sign of dehydration is decreased urination. If your child has excessive vomiting and diarrhea with decreased urination, dry mouth and lips, and increased sleepiness, you should call your doctor immediately.
Limping or joint pain without a known trauma. Leg, arm, or joint pain doesn’t necessarily have to be due to an injury. If your child is complaining of pain in their joints or extremities and there is no known injury, it is imperative that they are evaluated further, especially if that pain is associated with a fever.
We will discuss these individual symptoms more throughly during our FF journey. What I want for you to take away from this article is that if you have any doubt or worry about your child’s health, please call your doctor immediately and get him or her evaluated. Hope this helps with your journey! See you next Wednesday!