One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to take your child to the doctor. Not only does the child usually not want to go, but any good parent wants to avoid an emergency room full of contagious people. As such, it is important for the child’s health that a parent know when to take a child to the hospital and when to just keep the child home.
In general, as long as the child’s life is not in danger you may be better off waiting a little bit. This should be not be read as a general advisory to take your time getting the child to the hospital, but advice to use some judgment in the situation. A child may be able to suffer through the worst of the sickness and be perfectly fine, so there is some good reason to just keep the child home. However, a parent needs to keep an eagle eye out for potentially lethal diseases that all start with the same flu-like symptoms; what may seem like a regular childhood disease may end up being something far worse. Do not be afraid to be worried; when it comes to your child’s health a little paranoia is not a bad thing and may keep the child alive.
As a parent you need to be able to differentiate between the flu and more dangerous diseases. Flu-like symptoms include running a fever, vomiting, some coughing, and some diarrhea; as long as these are mild just worry about making the child comfortable, administer aspirin, and keep the fluids coming. It is when these symptoms become more severe that you need to start worrying. This includes a fever over 102 degrees or a cough that will not let up or has actually started turning painful. When the child cannot keep anything down or is dry heaving for long periods, the parent should definitely worry. Also be nervous if the child has to go to the bathroom a lot; this can represent a severe loss in fluids that can be life-threatening in and of itself.
There are some other issues to look for when it comes to your child’s health. Swelling under the armpits should definitely be a cause for concern, as that is where the major lymph nodes are located; if they are enlarged it means that the body is putting forth a lot of effort to get rid of something. Watch for any bruises that cannot be explained by a known source; if your child is developing lesions it is time to head to the emergency room. If blood shows up in the stools, urine, or vomiting, or even coughing, it is past time that the child be in the emergency room.
If the symptoms remain minor, then make sure that the child is well taken care of. Keep him rested, make sure that he is getting lots of fluids to replace those that he is losing, that foods are simple and not spicy, and administer some sort of medicine. The child’s immune system is a remarkable thing, and can deal with a lot more than some parents realize. However, do not be afraid to head to the emergency room if it is needed: Your child’s health should be paramount, and not being afraid of the emergency room is part of that.
Immunization has reduced child mortality rates significantly. For instance, immunization is responsible for the eradication of polio in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In spite of this, some parents believe that vaccines can harm their children. Here are the pros and cons of childhood vaccination:
Disease-Causing Pathogens Still Exist
Although most of the diseases that were once fatal to children have been eradicated in the developed world, the viruses and bacteria that cause the same diseases still exist. As such, failing to have your children immunized increases their risk of contracting diseases like influenza, pneumococcal disease, and human papillomavirus.
Immunization Saves Money and Time
Data from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) shows that the cost of treating vaccine-preventable diseases in the US exceeds $10 billion every year. This is in addition to lost workdays that can range from 5-16 days. Vaccines can help lower these financial and productivity losses. Given that vaccines are provided at no cost via federally funded programs, immunizing your child is financially sensible.
Protect Yourself and Others
Besides children, immunization benefits others like parents, a child’s siblings, and close relatives like grandparents, according to the NFID. This is because vaccine-preventable diseases can spread from young kids to people who have close contact with them. The bad news is such diseases can prove fatal or develop into serious medical conditions in the very young and the elderly. With this in mind, immunization protects your child, you, and your family. The Pediatric Academy Society says that immunization prevents 10.5 million infectious disease cases per year in the US.
Reduce the Likelihood of Premature Adult Death
Even in a developed country like the US, vaccine-preventable diseases are responsible for more fatalities than much feared diseases like breast cancer. Figures from the NFID show that vaccine-preventable diseases cause 50,000 adult deaths in the US annually. By taking your child for immunization, you will reduce a child’s likelihood of dying prematurely as an adult from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Over the years, dissenting voices have surfaced questioning the efficacy of vaccines. The truth is immunization works. Data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that vaccination has lowered vaccine-preventable infections by over 90%. Furthermore, the AAP says that the effectiveness of childhood vaccines in preventing diseases like mumps, tetanus, and diphtheria is high, ranging from 90-99%. As a result, children who contract vaccine-preventable diseases develop mild symptoms that are rarely fatal or could cause disabilities.
Adverse Side Effects
According to the CDC, any of the vaccines given to children in the US can cause side effects. However, side effects if any rarely cause serious problems. In fact, most adverse effects tend to be mild and last no more than a few days. This is because vaccines contain weakened strains of specific disease-causing microorganisms. Additionally, side effects generally vary from one vaccine to another. Adverse effects documented by reputable bodies such as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Sciences include:
• Protracted crying
• Brachial neuritis
• Deltoid bursitis
• Chronic nervous system dysfunction
• Guillian Barre Syndrome (GBS)
• Infection caused by smallpox, measles, varicella zoster, and polio vaccine strains.
• Febrile seizure
Other possible complications, according to the CDC include fainting and dizzy spells, mild fever, fatigue, swelling at point where vaccine shot was administered, diarrhea, mild rash, runny nose, wheezing, vomiting, and inconsolable fussiness. The CDC says most of these symptoms clear within 2-3 days.
Immunization has vastly improved the health outcomes of young children who were a century or so ago at the mercy of diseases such as polio, chickenpox, measles, and whooping cough. Vaccination benefits include preventing proliferation of disease-causing microorganisms that still exist and preventing premature adult deaths. Vaccination side effects include shock, headaches, vomiting, and anaphylaxis. Nevertheless, symptoms clear within days.