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.