My Child Is Sick, What Do I Do?

It is easy to become frustrated when your child is sick. As a physician and a grandpa, I regularly get asked to help determine if a child has a serious illness or just has a cold. I have a daughter in Colorado whose oldest child is 6 months old (my fifth grandchild).  Oh my, the calls I get. “She sneezed, she coughed, she spit up and she woke up twice last night. What do I do?”

I always tell her to start with the basics. Is she happy? Does she have a fever? Does she seem to be having difficulty with her breathing? How is her appetite? How many vaccinations has she had?

After a few of those questions and just one phone call, we were able to determine that my granddaughter just had a cold and nothing serious. There was no fever. She was happy and eating well. She has had three series of immunizations — so my granddaughter is being well taken care of.

This time of the year, your child is more exposed to respiratory illnesses. Sometimes it is easy to be unsure if it is a cold or something else. The Avera Ask-A-Nurse hotline at (800) 658-3535 provides a place where health care related questions can be answered. It is helpful if you have some basic information if you need advice over the phone.  Here is my short list of items that will make your clinic visit or phone call much more helpful:

  • How old is your child?
  • Does your child have a fever?
  • Do you know your child’s temperature?
  • Have you given the child any medicine, prescription or over-the-counter? How often?
  • Is he or she acting happy?
  • Has he or she been eating well?
  • Is he or she sleeping well?
  • Does he or she having difficulty with breathing?
  • Is your child coughing?
  • Is your child breathing rapidly?
  • How many immunizations has your child had?

Make sure the child has had all his or her immunizations and a flu shot to stay healthy this flu season. It is also important to provide a healthy diet and safe environment for your child.

By Dr. James Powell

Chief Medical Officer at Avera Health Plans

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