Many new moms are hesitant when it comes to calling the doctor. If there aren’t any clear and obvious signs that baby is sick (i.e. fever), you worry that you’re “disturbing” your doctor or that he will think you are overreacting. First off, it should be made very clear that you are never disturbing your doctor. Your doctor gets paid good money to be available for you, whether for emergencies or simple questions. If your doctor makes your questions seem trivial or an unnecessary disturbance, you should find yourself another doctor.
We’ve outlined 7 common childhood illnesses including when to call your doctor.
1. Fever – the most obvious sign that something is wrong with your child is fever. It’s usually a sign of something brewing. When the body has an infection, the it tries to fight it off, and the body temperature rises. Any fever in a newborn (0-2 months) no matter what grade, should be brought to the attention of the doctor immediately. If your older infant or child has fever higher than 102°, or lasts longer than 2-3 days, you should call your doctor.
2. Ear Infection – infants are more prone to ear infections and one of the first signs is crankiness or fever. If you suspect an ear infection, you should call your doctor right away because the only way to diagnose is for the doctor to actually look in your child’s ear. If you leave the infection alone, it will heal by itself, but it can be painful and the fever will not go away until the infection does.
3. Flu – fever, a runny nose, crankiness and lack of appetite are the most common signs of the flu. You should let your doctor look at your child, and if the symptoms don’t improve within 5 days, go back again. You want to make sure nothing serious develops.
4. Diarrhea – frequent and watery bowel movements are signs of diarrhea. It’s usually a sign of a virus but it can also indicate a food allergy. Call your doctor immediately if the stool is bloody or if your baby develops a high fever.
5. Strep – lack of appetite, fever and sore throat are among the first symptoms of strep. Most doctors do not treat strep in children under 2 years old because it will go away on its own. Some doctors do treat it, though, because it is just as catchy. Call your doctor if you suspect strep and let him decide if your child should take medication or not.
6. Common Cold – kids can get a cold as often as eight times a year! The symptoms are a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and occasionally fever. Call your doctor if your child is a newborn or if the fever rises. Avoid cold and cough medicine. You can give Tylenol and run a humidifier to moisten the air and help baby breath easier.
7. Croup – a deep, dry, hacking cough, usually the result of a cold or dry weather. Have your doctor check it out just to make sure it’s not bronchitis or pneumonia. Some doctors will give a steroid if the cough is not going away. If it lasts more than 5 days, have your doctor examine your baby again.
If your child goes to day care, catching these common illnesses is inevitable, but bundle him up against the cold to help prevent them. Wishing you and your kids best of health this winter!