Page 39 - Alaska Parent Winter 2020 Digital
P. 39

 Know when
Expert advice on
when to take your
sick baby to the doctor
By Malia JacoBson
Does your little one have the sniffles, or something more serious? Now more than ever, you may be wondering when to take your fussy, under-the-weather baby to the doctor. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies catch
up to 10 colds per year, more if they have older siblings or attend daycare. Since each illness may result in two to three weeks of symptoms, a baby may be sick up to 140 days out of their first year of life.
Because babies are still building critical immune- supporting antibodies, they lack protection against viruses and bacterial illnesses that circulate during cold and flu season. But not every sniffle or sneeze warrants a doctor visit – and going in for unneeded office visits may expose your baby to more harmful germs or spread them to others. When you’re considering a doctor visit for your baby, here’s how to know when
to go.
Viral illnesses
Viral illnesses like influenza (a.k.a. the flu) are more common during the winter and spring months but can happen at any time. “For viral infections, we treat symptoms, but because the illness is viral and not bacterial, antibiotics are not needed,” says family physician Frida Pena, MD.
RSV and Bronchiolitis
Respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV) is a common respiratory illness that can progress into a lung infection called bronchiolitis. RSV usually begins like a regular cold, with a stuffy or runny nose, mild cough, fever (temperature higher than 100.4), and decreased appetite. As the illness progresses, children may breathe rapidly or have trouble breathing, wheeze or make a whistling sound when breathing, or have a severe cough.
When to go: Many children with RSV or bronchiolitis do not need to see a doctor. But parents should watch for some important symptoms, says Frida. Call your healthcare provider if:
• You can see indentations between or below your
baby’s ribs when they breathe.
• Your baby's nostrils flare (get bigger) when they
• Your baby younger than 3 months has a fever
(temperature greater than 100.4).
• Your baby older than 3 months has a fever
(temperature greater than 100.4) for more than 3
• Your baby has fewer wet diapers than normal.
Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
Erythema infectiosum, or fifth disease, is a common, contagious illness with mild symptoms that include fever, headache, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle aches that last for 2-5 days. After these symptoms fade, children may develop a lacy, bright pink “slapped cheek” across the face, arms and upper back along with joint pain.
When to go: Most children feel better within
a week and don’t require a doctor visit. See your pediatrician or healthcare provider in the following situations:
• Your baby has an immune or blood disorder and has
symptoms of fifth disease.
• Your baby has symptoms for more than a month. • You develop fifth disease during pregnancy. Rarely,
fifth disease can be dangerous for an unborn baby.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFM) is a common babyhood illness that causes painful sores to form
in the mouth and on the hands, feet, buttocks and sometimes genitals. The condition is uncomfortable but usually short-lived – symptoms fade within a week or so.
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