A SICK CHILD — HOW TO MANAGE?
Having a sick child is a stressful and upsetting experience. Your child may be having a hard time feeling comfortable and dealing with pain, while you may be wondering if it is time to call the doctor. If you have a sick child at home, then there are several things that you can do to ensure that your child is comfortable and moving towards recovery
Parents know they have choices when their child is sick. They can treat the child at home, make a doctor’s appointment, go to the emergency room. But at times, knowing which choice to make isn’t always clear.
Many childhood illnesses, such as colds, stomach aches, headaches, and fevers, can be safely treated at home. But parents need to know they should always call a health care provider if they have any doubts or questions about how to take care of their sick child at home or if they should seek medical attention.
Caring for Your Sick Child
When your child gets sick with a viral infection such as a cold, flu, or one of the many other respiratory viruses, you can do several things to ease her symptoms and prevent serious complications. Here are the things you should know about caring for your child when she gets symptoms of a cold or influenza.
Here are common home treatments for symptoms:
- Fever: High fever is common in children and very scary for parents. Light cotton clothes, acetaminophen, extra fluids, and complete rest are good ways to cope with fever. Do not give aspirin to children or teens due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. Ibuprofen is acceptable for children over the age of 6 months.
- Vomiting:A frequent dilemma with the child’s high fever is vomiting that prevents the fever-reducing medication from doing its job. Acetaminophen suppositories can be kept in the refrigerator for just such emergencies. Bring the fever down with a suppository and the vomiting often eases.
- Dehydration: Fluids are the second recommendation you always hear for viral infections. They are important for easing upper respiratory symptoms as well as for critical rehydration during diarrhea and vomiting. Keep ORS on hand for times when your child experiences diarrhea and vomiting with fever.
- Rest: Make your child comfortable and let him sleep as much as possible. Keep his door open and the house quiet. You’ll want to check on him to make sure the sheets are dry and to gauge his fever and breathing. Place a glass of water within reach for when he awakens.
- Food: Simple foods are of course the best when your child is beginning to recover, like chicken soup. Warm honey, lemon, and water will ease a sore throat.
Fever and the Flu
When it comes to a child with a fever, there are two situations when you should call the doctor immediately:
• A child between ages zero and three months whose rectal temperature is above 100.3 degrees or below 97 degrees: Babies this young cannot regulate their temperatures well, so you shouldn’t wait to call the doctor.
• A child between ages three and six months with a rectal temperature of over 101 degrees: Although these older babies can regulate their body temperature better than when they were younger, a temperature over 101 degrees is still a serious concern.
For any child older than six months, the best gauge for treatment is the way he or she is behaving. If your child has a high fever but is active and behaving pretty normally, you needn’t be as concerned as you should be if, despite having only a low fever, your child seems unhappy and doesn’t want to play.
In general, even a high fever is not harmful in itself (unless caused by environmental factors, such as being out in the sun or in a hot car). For example, if your child’s temperature is 104 degrees, but he or she is still running around playing, there’s no reason for concern and no reason to treat it. (But keep checking: If it goes over 104 degrees, call the doctor.) If the child is uncomfortable and not playful, then check with the doctor about treating the fever with acetaminophen
Providing Rest and Fluids
Knowing how to care for a child with the flu includes understanding his or her need for plenty of fluids and, probably, extra rest. But there’s no need to make sick children stay in bed all day if they feel like getting up.
Kids are pretty good about not pushing themselves too hard when they don’t feel well. As noted earlier, you can usually feel confident basing your treatment on your child’s behavior.
Caring For a Sick Child
When your child has a cold, check with your doctor before giving any over-the-counter medicines as some have ingredients that are not recommended for children. Others may not be recommended for the symptoms your child has and most should not be given to children under the age of 2.
Colds vs. Influenza
The first important information you need is how to distinguish colds from flu, and when to take your child to the doctor.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “Colds and flu are both highly contagious and, in the initial stages, a bad cold and a mild case of the flu might seem alike. However, flu is a serious illness that can have life-threatening complications, unlike colds.” The flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:
• Tiredness/weakness (can be extreme)
• Dry cough
• Sore throat
• Runny nose
• Body or muscle aches
• Diarrhea and vomiting also can occur, but are more common in children.
When to Call the Doctor
If you suspect that your child has the flu, you must seek treatment within the first 48 hours in order to receive treatment with antiviral medications such as Tamiflu. The CDC lists some emergency warning signs in children that need urgent medical attention:
• High or prolonged fever (over 100.4 F) or any fever in a baby younger than 3 months
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Changes in mental status, such as not waking up or not interacting; being so irritable that the child does not want to be held; or seizures
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions (for example, heart or lung disease, diabetes)
Treating Vomiting and Diarrhea
If your child is vomiting or having diarrhea, it’s important to be sure he or she doesn’t get dehydrated. Once the vomiting stops, the best way to maintain hydration and replace lost electrolytes is to give the child small sips of Pedialyte. Space these sips out; give one every five to 10 minutes so you can be sure your child is able to keep the fluids down.
Seeing the Doctor
Of course, anytime you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms or behavior, whether from the flu or something else, it’s a good idea to call your pediatrician.
He or she can tell you whether you need to bring your child in to be seen or if you can treat the symptoms at home.
Making a Sick Child Comfortable
1-Provide emotional support. Being sick is uncomfortable and your child may be worried or upset because of how he or she feels. Giving your child some extra attention and care may help. For example, you can:
• Sit with your child.
• Read your child a book.
• Sing to your child.
• Hold your child’s hand.
• Hold your baby in your arms.
2- Elevate your child or baby’s head. A cough can get worse if your child is lying flat on his or her back. To keep your child’s head elevated, try putting a book or towel under the mattress of your baby’s crib or under the legs at the head of the crib or bed.You can also give your child an extra pillow or use a wedge pillow to help your child stay upright.
3.Provide a quiet environment. Keep your home as quiet and peaceful as possible to make it easier for your child to rest. Stimulation from television or computers prevents sleep and your child needs as much rest as possible, so you may consider removing devices from your child’s bedroom or at least limiting your child’s use of devices.
4.Give your child plenty of clear liquids. Dehydration can make matters worse when your child is sick. Prevent dehydration in your child by making sure your child drinks fluids frequently. Offer your child:
• Ginger ale
• Diluted fruit juice
• Electrolyte-enhanced beverages
5-Provide foods that are easy to digest. Give your child nutritious foods that won’t upset their stomach. Choice of food might depend on your child’s symptoms. Good options include:
• Salty crackers
• Mashed potatoes
Give your child chicken soup. Although it will not cure your child, warm chicken soup helps relieve cold and flu symptoms by making mucus thinner and acting as an anti-inflammatory.
Treating a Sick Child at Home
*Give your child plenty of rest. Encourage your child to sleep as often as he or she likes. Read your child a story or have your child listen to an audio book to make it easier to fall asleep. Your child needs as much rest as they can get.
*Use over-the-counter medications with caution. If you decide to give medicine, try to stick to one product, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, rather than alternating medications or giving combinations of medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about which medicines might be appropriate for your child.
• Do not routinely give ibuprofen to a child under 6 months old.
• Do not give random cough and cold medicines to a child under 4 years old, These medicines have the potential to cause life-threatening side effects and have not been shown to be very effective either.
• Do not give infants, children, or teenagers acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) because this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
*Encourage your child to gargle with warm salt water. Add ¼ teaspoon of regular table salt into 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and spit out the salty water when finished. Gargling with salt water can help relieve throat pain.
• For younger children or for nasal congestion, you can also use salt water (saline) nasal drops or sprays.
Watch for signs of serious illness. Pay careful attention to signs that indicate your child needs to be seen by a medical professional immediately. These include:
- Fever in a child under three months old
• Severe headache or a stiff neck
• Changes in breathing patterns, especially any trouble breathing
• Changes in skin colour, such as looking very pale, reddish, or bluish
• Child refuses to drink fluids or stops urinating
• No tears when crying
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Child is difficult to wake up or is unresponsive
• Child is unusually quiet and inactive
• Signs of extreme irritability or pain
• Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
• Sudden or prolonged dizziness
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then get worse.
CALL VAATSALYA CLINIC TO MEET DR SHAIVALI JOSHI FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE