Deciding when to take the kids to the doctor

One November morning, Jase came down the stairs, coughing. It was deep, unproductive sound. I got him a glass of milk. As soon as he took a sip, he started coughing more and sounding like he might throw up. But in fact, I think he was just coughing so hard that he couldn’t get air back into his lungs. This of course set him into a panic which made the situation worse.

Finally, my husband was able to calm him down. He had him lie on the bed and just focus on breathing. Jase sounded like Darth Vader. There was no way we wanted to send him to school sounding like that so I took Lexie to school and when I returned, I called the doctor’s office to see if we should bring him in.

sick childThat is always a quandary for parents – when is your child sick enough to need to see a doctor? I am not the kind that takes them in at every little sniffle or fever. In fact, I would rather NOT take them in unless I believe it to be serious. Heck, I don’t even medicate a fever (see my post last year on that topic) unless it is over 102 or causing the child discomfort.

Of course if the fever persists or there are other symptoms, I will take my kid to the doctor. I just don’t want to be one of these over-protective parents. I have friends who take their kids in whenever they start to feel bad, so they can “get ahead” of whatever is wrong.

Now I will admit that I have taken the kids in for minor things right before we plan to go out of town. I don’t know what it is but as soon as we have trip plans, one of them will run a fever or get sick. Since I don’t want to be out of town and discover they have an ear infection or something that needs treatment, I have taken them to the doctor. And each time it has turned out to be nothing serious. It does give me peace of mind, but I always feel slightly silly as I would have never brought them in if we hadn’t been getting ready to leave town.

So back to Jase and his breathing, I received a return call from a nurse from the doctor’s office. Since it was a breathing issue, they would want to see him, but they don’t have any openings for the next four hours. She suggests we take him to Urgent Care so off he and my husband went. They did a chest x-ray and had him breathe with a nebulizer. They gave him a steroid and sent him home with a two-day supply of steroids and the nebulizer. It turned out to just be a virus and by that afternoon, he was feeling better.

There are all sorts of lists online or in books that give you guidelines about when to take your kid to the doctor. But I think the best course of action when you are in doubt – and the one I use the most – is just call and talk with a nurse or doctor who can determine if they need to be seen. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and take them in – even if you feel silly for doing it when nothing turns out to be wrong with them.


One thought on “Deciding when to take the kids to the doctor

  1. sjhigbee says:

    It’s always a tricky one, knowing exactly when to get help and this is a really helpful blog – I always HATED it when the children were sick and it doesn’t get any easier nursing the grandchildren!. Just a tip – if your child is struggling with a cold or cough, ease up on milk/diary until they’re better. Milk tends to encourage the production of mucus. Hope Jase feels better, soon.

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