Monday, January 26, 2009

Slimey, Whiny, Sick

We are slowly suffering our way through another round of colds. Thus far, Linus is the only one to have succumbed but who knows with all the flowing mucus, sporadic fever, watery eyes, nighttime coughing, and disturbed sleep.

Since I'm a newbie at this parenting thing (as I only have one), I'm at a loss for what level of sickness requires a trip to the doctor. I know that a temperature over 103 justifies a call but what about a cough? Ear infection? Duration of sickness?

I know parents who call about everything and I know parents who call about nothing. My personal take on it (thus far) has been if there's nothing a doctor can do, why bother? To be more specific, if there's really no medicine that can be handed out aside from Tylenol or ibuprofen, and all they're gonna tell me is to humidify, encourage rest (yea, right), monitor the temperature, etc. what's the point of entering the disease-infested premises of the doctor's office? However, what if I'm wrong?

So that's my question for today: What conditions warrant a trip into the doctor's office for your family? Do you go in just to be sure or do you wait for conditions to worsen?

And if you have any great tips for helping keep the sufferer comfortable, I'd appreciate those as well.

Now off to wipe some green slime off the little one's face before it ends up on the couch.


nikki said...

Well, I only have one, too, and she's younger than yours, but:

I'd call if the cold spawns something else, like pinkeye or an ear infection. I'd call if he's no better two weeks later, or if it morphs into something even worse, or if he seems to be getting better and then suddenly takes a turn. I'd call if you think the cough is really nasty-sounding and might be bronchitis.

We use saline drops in her nose to help keep the snot moving and it seems to help a bit.

Jo from Dixie said...

Abby, your mother's instinct will truly kick in if this is really something bad to worry about. Always go with your gut feeling first. Having said that, I always take my kids in if their fever lasts for more than 3 days or remains unusually high for 24-48 hours. Also, if he become listless, begins refusing food or liquids then he definitely needs to be seen. I know they've said in recent news not to use cold medicines in children under 2...I think that's overhyped. I think it's probably caused from parents who overmedicated their kids. We've always used yellow triaminic. Ella, who is just a month or two older than Linus, receives 1/2 tsp every 4 hours for her snotty nose and chest congestion. Also, there is an OTC vapor rub for children and can be used at night on their chest for relief and aid in sleeping. I hope this helps. Often times, you just have to wait these things out. This, too, shall pass. I'm speaking from much experience. Good luck! Wish I was nearer so I could lend a helping hand and some relief to you.

Midwest Mom said...

I'd agree with Jo (above). I've always taken a look at my child's behavior as an indicator of just how sick they really are. If my little guy is crying or irritable or listless, I head for the doctor- today. I also keep an eye on how they're eating and drinking. Refusing to eat or drink can be a sign of an irritated throat or an ear infection -- even if fever is absent.

But one thing to remember is that ear infections usually *aren't* accompanied by the 103+ fever spike. If one of my kids has a fever that's hovering between 100 and 102 for more than a day, I book the doctor visit, because for mine, that usually means an ear infection.

I would say, use your instincts, because you know Linus best. But I would also say that there is nothing wrong with calling your pediatrician to say, I don't think he needs to come in, but here are his symptoms. What do I need to do to make him comfortable? What do I need to watch for?

The other thing you can do is use a resource. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child is a great book I've recommended on Midwest Moms. I use it all the time.

Good luck, and feel better, Linus!

- Julia

Missy said...

I was once told by a pediatrician that if a fever marks the beginning of the illness and then it progresses into the "crud" then it's more than likely a virus that has to run its course. If the fever comes on later after all the other symptoms, then it usually warrants a doctor's visit. We like to use the Casero rub for any congestion/cough - it's like the baby vapor rub, only a cough suppressant...even works on the 10-year-olds! Also, if the cough lasts longer than a week, you might try calling the doctor. You can also use Mucinex for all the mucous. I hope this helps.

corrie said...

Luckily we have a triage nurse line at our pediatrician's office, so I can always call and describe Lily's symptoms to a nurse, and she can help me decide if I should bring her in. She can also give some recommendations over the phone, saving us an office visit. I took Lily in because she'd been vomitting for several days, and I was getting concerned about dehydration and weight loss. (Now I am well-versed in the signs of dehydration, so I'll know what to look for next time.)

With respiratory stuff, my main concern would be ear infection or strep. Lily has had a couple of ear infections with very few symptoms (no tugging at the ear)--just listlessness and low grade fever. So now I'm on alert if I see that. And I don't really know what to look for with strep, so I would guess if she stopped eating or drinking it could indicate sore throat.

Ultimately, we have a low co-insurance for sick visits, so I'm pretty conservative. I do hold off if, like you said, I don't think they're going to tell me anything I don't already know (fluids, Tylenol, etc.). We don't use any medications for colds, according to our pediatrician's advice. We do use the OTC nose drops occasionally, but that's pretty much it.

Oh, and our ped says colds usually last up to two weeks, so if it was still going on after that, I might go in. Or if things were getting worse. When Lily was teeny tiny, we had to take her in for deep suctioning twice during a bad cold.

Hope little Linus is feeling like himself soon (and you, too)!

loving green said...

A lot of great advice above!!! My saving grace has been the Baby 411 and Toddler 411 series (Baby 411 even more so). They have saved me a lot of Dr. visits. We have been lucky enough to have insurance that you don't have a copay for sick visits, and I imagine it gets abused by some - going in for every little thing. I usually cross-reference Baby 411 first if I am questioning it and see what I find. With the exception to the past two weeks with Jaden, we usually only see the Dr. twice a year - once for a sick visit and once for a well visit, and last year Jaden only went for his well visit.
Hope everybody feels better soon!
Sam :)

Susan said...

If the stuff coming out is really green, you've probably got an infection on your hands that may benefit from some antibiotics. We don't take the kids to the doctor unless we suspect an infection. There are a lot of moms (like mine!) who think that whenever you're sick, you need an antibiotic, but you seem to know better than that. :-)

It is nice when they get bigger and can stand using a neti pot to get the crud out. Have you tried putting some saline nose drops in and sucking out some crud for him? (Not fun, I know!)

Hope he feels better soon! Susan

Susie said...

If I'm worried about an ear infection, I go by how they act at night. Lots of drying and ear pulling at night (with or without the fever) then I suspect an infection. And I go by the color of the stuff coming out as well - yellowish green = infection. But like you, I try to avoid the Dr's office when I can.

Miche said...

If I see ear pulling I go in right away, other stuff I wait on. I love my cool mist humidifier, vicks, and I have the little noses saline drops and decongestant stuff from the grocery store; they all work great for normal colds for us. I'm lucky though, I haven't had both sick at once yet...we will see how long I last before just running to the doctor begging for something at least for ME when that!

Nan Lujan said...

I agree with the other comments -- we took Logan in a few weeks ago for an ear infection -- I would say if he's really having trouble sleeping, then it doesn't hurt to have him checked out. Usually if Logan just has conjestion or a runny nose, the humidifier, vicks, and elevation seems to do the trick to get him through the night.

Nell @ Casual Friday Everyday said...


I wanted to say I love your profile picture too!

:--) Nell