Some minor illnesses and other childhood presentations can be treated at home. The Federal Government has offered the following guidelines to aid you in the decision to treat at home or call the doctor. They are a guide only. You know your child better than anyone.
Fever is the most commonly seen symptom seen in a child. Many minor illnesses cause fevers and most can be treated at home. However, if your child is under three months, has a rash, refuses to eat or drink, or other unusual symptoms such as a stiff neck, call the doctor. Vomiting is probably the second most seen symptom in a child. If there are no other symptoms and your child vomits only once or twice, it most likely has served its purpose and cleared the digestive tract of the illness or irritant. Treat with clear liquids and slowly increase fluids and then soft, bland foods as they are tolerated. Call your doctor if there is blood or green color (bile) in the vomit or if the symptoms get worse (continued vomiting or stomach pain). Diarrhea may follow or accompany vomiting. Again, one or two watery stools should not overly concern you. Call the doctor if an infant has six to eight watery stools in one day, an older child has continued watery stools, or any stools have blood in them. As with vomiting, diarrhea calls for plenty of liquids and slowly building back to a normal diet.
For home treatment of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea it is essential to keep track of the intake and elimination of fluids. Dehydration is dangerous in children, especially infants. Call your doctor immediately if you notice a decrease in normal urination frequency. Other symptoms of dehydration to watch for include dry lips/mouth, dark colored urine, or dry skin that loses its normal tone. In an infant, the soft spot on the head may appear sunken.
True colds are usually a minor illness that only time will cure. They are caused by viruses and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are given to prevent secondary infections of opportunity. Call if your child has difficulty breathing, is showing signs of an ear infection, your child's symptoms worsen after 3 days or last more than normal. Common colds usually last no more than 5 to 7 days with all symptoms gone in 10 to 14 days. TLC is the best home treatment.
Nosebleeds are common in children. Anything from an attempt at flying to the extremely dry air found in our homes in the winter can cause them. Have your child sit upright with the head tilted forward. Pinch the upper part of the nose and hold it for around 10 minutes. This will almost always work, but in some cases may need repeating. If your child has nosebleeds with no obvious cause, call the doctor.
Rashes are a hard call. Many childhood diseases present themselves with a rash. If your child has a fever or the rash covers a large area of the body, call the doctor. Basically, if it doesn't look like a normal diaper rash or your kid hasn't been playing in poison ivy, give the doctor a call. It may be that it is only a reaction to an environmental change such as a new laundry soap, but........
Your child is your most precious gift. If you are not sure what the symptoms (fever, rash, etc.) are presenting, it is best to call the doctor.
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