Pediatric patients, especially infants and young children, are mostly quiet when they are sick. Their symptoms are barely discernible because they don’t usually complain. Sometimes, their acting different from usual is what most parents use as a gauge in telling that their child is not okay, making it even more difficult for parents to tell if their child really needs to see a doctor.
Here are some general guidelines to help you out.
1. Check his breathing rate and pattern. Note for signs of labored breathing such as flaring of the nostrils, retractions of the chest or neck, fast breathing, and wheezing. This is especially important if your child is asthmatic or having respiratory problems. Take him to a doctor right away.
2. If the child has known allergies and you suspect that he had been exposed to it, call the doctor. Meanwhile, be informed that there are many signs and symptoms of allergy and it will vary from person to person. It may manifest as skin rashes, itchiness, shortness of breath, diarrhea, vomiting, slight fever, and even shock.
3. Get his temperature. Get him to a doctor immediately if your child’s fever is consistently high, does not respond to antipyretics (e.g. Acetaminophen) and tepid sponge bath, and most especially if a history of benign febrile seizure runs in the family.
4. If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, call the doctor. He will teach you how to monitor your child for dehydration status and will tell you whether your child’s condition warrants hospital admission.
5. Always seek medical consult if the child complains of severe headache accompanied with fever and stiff neck. This is a classic presentation of meningitis.
6. Take the child to the doctor if he sustains a cut anywhere in the body, especially if you can not stop the bleeding, or if the cut is deep enough to require stitches.
7. If you suspect that your child has ingested something toxic, call a poison-control hotline immediately.
8. Assess your child’s consciousness by talking to him. If he is lethargic or unresponsive, call 911 immediately.
9. See a doctor if your child falls or bumps his head strong enough to make him unconscious. If however, your child did not lose consciousness during the incident, but was noted to be confused, disoriented, drowsy, or vomiting, still bring him to a doctor. These are warning signs of more serious problems that should be further investigated.
10. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or 911 for emergency cases, or go to the nearest hospital. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Knowing when to bring our child to a doctor is a skill we should all know by heart. We should not disregard every minute suspecting signs and symptoms our children may be having. Instead, we should be cautious and keen in observing them every moment of the day and seek medical help when necessary.