Thursday, 20 August 2015

when to seek medical advice for your children

It is heartbreaking when your little ones get sick. You feel so helpless and usually second guess yourself - "should I take them to the doctor? Should I take them to the hospital? Should I give them Panadol?" etc.

I found this handy little article on Kidspot - 10 kids' symptoms you should never ignore.

Coughs and colds will generally run their course and all you can do is make sure your child is hydrated, either by more frequent breast/bottle feeds or water if they are at the appropriate age and giving pain relief or a lukewarm bath to bring down a temperature.

Rashes/spots are still a bit of a mystery to me as they could be ANYTHING - hives from an allergic reaction to something, a viral rash, chicken pox, mozzie bites or meningitis etc. The thing is, some rashes look completely the same and it can be hard to tell the difference.  

With regards to high fevers -
Seek medical attention if your child is:
  • Younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 38°C or higher.
  • Between 3 to 6 months and has a temperature higher than 38.9°C.
  • A newborn and has a lower than normal temperature – less than 36.1°C. Very young babies may not regulate body temperature well when they’re ill and may become cold rather than hot.
  • Any age and has a temperature over 39.4°C
Otherwise keep your child hydrated and give pain relief to make them comfortable.

Head to the GP if:
  • Your child has had a fever for longer than 5 days and is getting sicker rather than better. This is a sign of possible infection and will require antibiotics.
Head to the hospital if:
  • Your child shows signs of dehydration, is glassy-eyed or unresponsive. 
  • Your child also has a headache or a stiff neck. This may be a sign or meningitis.
In most cases a fever accompanied by a rash is caused by a mild virus called roseola.

Head to the hospital if:
  • If you notice your child has dry mouth and lips, has fewer wet nappies than usual, a flat fontanelle (in an infant), dry skin or skin that stays bunched when you pinch it, excessive vomiting or diarrhoea - this could be a severe case of dehydration and requires urgent medical attention.
Head to the hospital if:
  • Your child has a headache and is vomiting - this combination can be a sign of meningitis.

Head to the GP or hospital if:
  • Your child complains of sudden stomach pains around the navel with progress to a sharp pain in the lower right side. This can be a sign of appendicitis. Other symptoms include: pain in the lower back, hamstring or rectum, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation and loss of appetite.
If the appendix bursts then its infected contents will spread through the abdomen. An infection can be life threatening without prompt treatment.

One of the most important symptoms in this article is when your gut instinct tells you something is not right. Never feel like it's stupid to push and persist for help if you feel there is something not right. I took L to hospital just because it was taking longer than usual to get her to go to sleep and she was screaming and screaming which was so out of character for her. She had no fever, wasn't off her bottles or food, but they still took me seriously and did an xray and an ultrasound, even transferred us by ambulance to another hospital. They thought she may have a problem with her bowel but in the end it turned out to be a little bit of constipation. I didn't think it would be constipation as she was pooing every couple of days and I thought it was only considered constipation if it was longer than 10 days.

We are lucky in Australia to have a hotline to ring to ask a registered nurse for advice if we are unsure what to do. Call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222. This is not just advice for babies or children but for everyone.

Please read the article for more symptoms you should not ignore.

The Panadol site also has a nifty dosage calculator that works out the correct dosage of all the childrens' range based on age and weight. For example, L is nearly 2 and roughly 11.5kgs. If I gave her Baby Drops (1 month - 2 years) she'd have a 1.5-1.8mL dosage. Panadol Suspension 1-5years she'd have a 6-8mL dosage. Panadol Suspension 5-12 years she'd have 3-4mL and Panadol Elixir 5-12 years she'd have 3-4mL. Definitely much easier than trying to work it out yourself based on the amount of paracetamol per mL for their weight and less chance of an overdose. Of course it's better to buy the correct product for your child, but sometimes you may run out without realising and have the other one on hand for another child, or have accidentally purchased the wrong one.

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