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Monday, February 6, 2012

When do I take my baby to the doctor?

That is the age old question. Am I being paranoid or is my child really sick? First and foremost I never argue with a mother’s instinct. Even as a trauma nurse looking at a baby who (to me) appears normal and fine, if the mother says there is something not right, then by golly there is something not right. A mother truly does know best. But for those who are just paranoid let me give you a few helpful tips. A temperature of 100-102 degrees is not life threatening but should be watched carefully. Always check it several times and test your thermometer on yourself. If you are using one that scans across the fore head or scans the tympanic membrane of the ear make sure it is clean or it might give you a false reading. If you are certain the child has a temp of 103-104 or higher call the hospital or bring them in immediately, Tylenol may cover up the temp but it won’t treat the cause. A temp for too long can lead to dehydration and in many cases dehydration is the cause of the temp. Diarrhea/Vomiting For most adults after three days of diarrhea/vomiting we need to come into the emergency room for treatment but for children three hours to a day is all it takes for your little one to become dehydrated. With vomiting and diarrhea large amounts of fluids and precious electrolytes are lost. If you notice your child acting lethargic or less fussy or just overly tiered it probably means they are dehydrated and low on electrolytes. Trifecto If your child has all three (temp, diarrhea, vomiting) we call that a trifecto and you need to bring them in to an emergency room. The trifecto puts your child dangerously at risk of severe dehydration that can lead to organ failure, brain damage and even death. Don’t gamble with the trifecto. The sooner you bring them in the quicker and better chance they have at a speedy recovery. For mild, do it yourself, cases you give your child small doses of children’s Tylenol, be careful with Tylenol for too much can cause liver damage and never, NEVER, ever give your children aspirin… EVER! If you have some pedialyte that is a good way to rehydrate and replace electrolytes. Though in my experience most children hate the taste and will refuse to drink it but who knows, maybe your child is the exception to the rule. I have found the best thing for rehydration is good old fashioned cheap walmart popcycles. They are about 99% water and the rest is sugar (which is an electrolyte). Kids love them, they eat them slowly (which is important in cases of dehydration) and they are cold (helps bring down the core body temp).

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