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When to Take Your Child to the Doctor

Your first instinct may be to rush your child off to a doctor as soon as symptoms appear, but sometimes staying home can be safer.

Fevers can be one of the clearest indicators of infection or other health concerns for children, yet parents often become alarmed at its appearance. Christopher Tolcher, MD, FAAP of Agoura-West Valley Pediatrics provides some insights into fevers as an indicator for medical attention for their young patient. When you should visit their pediatrician

Fever

Fever can be alarming for parents, but most cases will pass within days and no need to panic.

Fever is your body’s natural defense mechanism against viruses and bacteria. By raising its core temperature chemically, your body can prevent these pathogens from reproducing further while starting the healing process.

Fever is a common symptom of numerous medical illnesses and conditions, the primary source being viruses.

Fever can also be caused by bacterial infections such as ear, throat or pneumonia infections.

If your child has a fever, offer plenty of fluids as they may also require medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring down their temperature.

Always read and follow the directions on the bottle as this could affect their dosage, depending on their age. In addition, track how frequently and often your child urinates as well as wet diapers they produce over 24 hours.

If a fever lasts more than seven days or is particularly high, it is wise to consult a pediatrician. They can assess what caused it and devise an effective course of treatment.

Fever in children typically does not constitute an emergency unless dehydration and breathing difficulty occur; in such instances it should be addressed by visiting either your pediatrician or the emergency room.

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At-home treatment options usually allow most children to successfully manage fevers. Maintaining adequate hydration levels is especially crucial since your child will likely require trips to the bathroom more frequently during an episode of illness. If they cannot drink or are having difficulty breathing, however, emergency room intervention should be sought immediately.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common condition, often brought on by infection or something in their stomach, but symptoms typically disappear within days or so, according to National Institutes of Health’s (NIDDK) Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN). Diarrhea that lasts longer may indicate serious health problems for your child.

Diarrhea can be caused by food poisoning or infections such as rotavirus and salmonella; however, other factors may also play a part.

Food poisoning can occur from eating or drinking contaminated products and beverages, including fresh fruits, vegetables and meats that have gone bad; undercooked meats and dairy products; raw or undercooked eggs; or bacteria found in drinking water. Children are vulnerable to food poisoning.

One effective way of preventing diarrhea in your family is ensuring everyone washes their hands regularly – especially after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.

Wash tabletop and doorknob surfaces regularly to reduce the risk of germs landing on them, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that kills germs for added defense against infections.

If your child has diarrhea, make sure they receive plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Pedialyte(r) or similar glucose-electrolyte solutions can be purchased without a valid prescription from most pharmacies.

If your child has severe diarrhea, you should bring them immediately to a physician as soon as possible for evaluation and possible IV fluid administration. Signs of dehydration among young children include less wet diapers than usual, dark urine color and no tears when crying and skin that tents when pinched – these symptoms could indicate dehydration and should prompt action immediately.

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Coughs

Coughing can be part of your child’s normal defense against infection, but if the coughing worsens or sounds as though your child is coughing blood it may be time to consult a healthcare provider. Most coughs don’t warrant concern, particularly if they’re unrelated to any other symptoms.

Most coughs will improve with time as a cold passes; however, if your child experiences an ongoing cough that lasts over two weeks without improving or is associated with fever, seek medical advice immediately. A persistent cough that coincides with fever could indicate an infection such as sinusitis which requires medical care to address.

Wheezing coughs (whistling sounds when breathing out) in children often arise due to lower airway swelling in their lungs due to asthma or viral lung infections such as bronchiolitis.

Immediately contact your pediatrician if your child experiences a barking cough as this could be a telltale sign of croup, an infection that causes swelling to their upper airways and usually affects boys more than girls.

At night, many coughs worsen as mucus from your child’s nose and sinuses drains down their throat, aggravating an already irritating condition. If they’re having difficulty sleeping due to an uncomfortable barking cough that prevents them from sleeping through the night, taking them to see their doctor may help treat croup symptoms effectively.

Children often cough up green, white and yellow mucus that could indicate a sinus infection; when left untreated it could progress into severe chest infections.

Abdominal Pain

There are a range of conditions that may cause abdominal pain. Indigestion and gas pains tend to resolve themselves within a day or two without treatment; other issues, like endometriosis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease may need additional measures taken in order to alleviate their symptoms.

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If your child is experiencing severe or ongoing stomach pain, seek medical attention immediately. Involve the doctor if their pain coincides with weight loss, nausea and vomiting that persists or blood in their stool.

The abdomen is an essential area of our bodies. It houses our stomach, liver, intestines and reproductive organs as well as major blood vessels.

Abdominal pain is one of the most prevalent health concerns among children. It occurs in about five percent of emergency room visits but usually subsides quickly on its own.

Pain in the stomach area typically arises from stomach viruses, gas or indigestion; it may also indicate something more serious such as bowel obstruction or appendix issues.

Colicky abdominal pain occurs in waves and could be indicative of kidney or gallstone formation.

Although the pain may initially seem mild, certain activities or behaviors could worsen it significantly. If your child is missing school due to his/her pain, seek medical advice immediately.

Your child’s pediatrician is the ideal person to discuss abdominal pain with. He or she knows your child’s medical history, can diagnose him or her accurately and suggest the most suitable treatments such as medication, diet or stress management to get your child well quickly and stay healthy in the future.