Dr Asomugha : Should you take your child to the Doctor?
Dear Mom: I get it. Sometimes your child starts coughing, or sneezes one too many times and you start to worry. Does she have a cold? Does he need to see the doctor? What if he gets worse? What if she ends up in the emergency room because I didn’t get help right away?
These are all natural questions to ask! Of course you don’t want your child to get sicker! And for parents, especially first time parents, having a sick child is a very scary event. In fact, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself: Should I go to the doctor’s office to have my child seen? How long should I wait to go? Should I be doing something at home to help my child feel better? What can I do? Again, all very natural questions to ask and they can be answered!
Here are three things I like to tell parents to help them when they are wondering what to do when their child starts showing symptoms of a cold:
1. Know what a fever is and whether your child has one.
A fever is a temperature that is greater than or equal to 38 degrees C(100.4 F) The best way to take your child’s temperature is with a thermometer either orally, or rectally if they are much younger. Feeling your child’s forehead, torso or armpit with the back or front of your hand is not an accurate way to determine if your child has a fever.
Remember: Every child will get a fever at some point in his or her life. A fever is not a sign that you as a parent did something wrong.
If your child does have a fever, you can give ibuprofen or acetaminophen (according to the dosage on the bottle) to make your child more comfortable. But never give aspirin as this can cause a serious, potential fatal illness in children.
2. Antibiotics do not cure the common cold.
Yes, that’s right: your child DOES NOT need antibiotics to treat her cold symptoms. I know that’s hard advice to take, but it is important. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections only. Taking antibiotics when it is not needed makes it harder to treat infections that do require antibiotics later on. Your child, especially in the first few years of life, may get a lot of colds, especially if they are in child care. Just remember: colds tend to go away by themselves within a week or so, without getting worse and without the need for medication. If their symptoms are getting worse instead of better after three days, then it’s time to see the doctor.
3. Call the doctor’s office if there is anything about your child’s symptoms that is worrying you.
Your child’s paediatrician may be able to provide advice on whether to bring your child in to be seen or not. This is recommended as a first step before rushing your child to the clinic. I hope this helps you navigate the waters of parenting a child with a cold.
Source: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics) The information contained in this posting should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your paediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your paediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.