Does Your Child's Cold Need Professional Medical Attention?
Things may have progressed beyond a basic cold and require medical attention if you notice:
- Prolonged or severe throat pain
- Ear pain, or tugging at the ears in a young child
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Very congested cough
- High fever (>102) that does not go down after taking fever-reducing medicine
- Extreme lethargy that goes beyond a sick child's just wanting to rest
- Difficulty breathing
Above all, remember that you know your child best; if you feel that something is truly wrong and warrants medical attention, get it checked out.
When calling your child's healthcare provider, make sure you are able to explain:
- A list of the symptoms and a history of them: when they started, how they started, and if they are currently getting better or worse.
- What you've done to relieve them. Exhaust your common sense procedures before calling. If your child is uncomfortable from a fever, give fever-reducing medicine. Check his temperature about 45 minutes later. Still high? NOW call.
- Other health information your provider might need or want to know. If it's someone your child sees only once or twice a year it's not likely they'll remember all your child's specifics. Spell out your concerns: "Zack needed an inhaler last winter, and I'm wondering if he might need one again." It is especially important to inform your provider if your child was born prematurely or has had a history of asthma, says Dr. Baumel.
The ability to clearly communicate the above points by phone will enable your provider to better determine whether you can continue to treat your child's illness at home, or whether a visit to the office is required.