(Please remember once again, we are not doctors or at all related to the medical profession or even play one on TV. We just have lots of experience dealing with illness and doctors. Always consult your physician.)
Our family recently recovered from the illness of the month. This time it was strep. But it always seems to be something--stomach issues, fevers, congestion, sore throats.
While the remedies for all that ails us ranges from prescription meds to "wait it out," one thing is for certain--it sucks to see your kids sick and in pain.
Because of this, I think as parents we sometimes tend to leap before we look. And it never fails to surprise me that year after year, the more experienced (one would think) I get with illness, I still leap too soon.
In reflection on this past bout of sickness, I'd like to share some wisdom I've gained over the past few years to save some of you the hassle of leaping before you look, observe and consult. And my hope is that many of you will chime in as well, since this is collective knowledge.
1) Not all fevers are bad. Thanks to a very helpful nurse very early on, I was reassured that fevers are a sign of fighting infection. A high fever (even up to 104 in toddlers) while a sign of sickness doesn't usually warrant the response I usually have. Which is something like "Oh my God. My kid's brain is going to bake." Apparently, that's not true. My latest doctor told me it bakes around 108. Always good knowledge to have.
2) Tylenol and Motrin is a 'fever reducer' not a 'fever go-awayer.' I believed for many years that once you gave a kid meds the fever would disappear. Again if you have a 103 degree fever, chances are medicine isn't going to make it go away, but it will make it go down so your child can feel better. Whew!
3) Not all ear infections need prescription meds. This once shocked me as well. An ENT in Sweden informed me when my daughter had her second ear infection. The first she was four months old and had a ruptured ear drum and he thought that definitely called for antibiotics. However, four months later when she was struck with pain again, he assured me we had too many antibiotics in our community and that most were viral anyway and to wait it out. Floored by this response, I was surprised that four days later she was better. Now come to find out, doctors here in the states are following suit with a similar recommendation.
4) Strep throat is only the cause of approximately 30% of sore throats.* I learned this little fact from the nice nurse at the CVS Minute Clinic. (By the way, if you don't know these, check them out!) For any of you who have taken your preschooler to get one of these strep tests, you know that it sucks for them and you. So look before you leap on this one.
An added note on this: After you've had strep in your house a few times, you'll recognize the pungent smell that comes from it. Stick your child in a room for 5 minutes and come back, if it reeks of some awful bad breath smell, chances are it's strep.
5) Croup sounds scarier than it is. We are veterans of croup. But I am happy to say that after four years of annual croup visits, it has been a long time since that cough has resurfaced in our house. I promise you will panic the first time you hear this cough, and you might even make it to the doctor or ER for this one. But keeping your child calm and comfortable seems to be about the best medicine. There are the cases where you should take them if they can't breathe, obviously. We did have one of our trips to the ER that was semi-warranted, but they assured us that we probably could have gotten him calmed down enough to breathe regularly. 'Probably' wasn't good enough so we went. But that was our last trip to the ER for croup even though we had many more visits from the cough.
6) You'll only make one high-fever ER run. Again, like croup, a fever of 104 in the middle of the night will scare the bejeebers out of you. You'll pack up and fly out the door to the hospital only to be welcomed with a slew of blood work and tests that will make everyone upset and exhausted the following day. Yep, we did it and you will too. We guarantee you'll only do it once. Chalk it up as a learning experience and one to pass along to other moms.
And while cold and flu season is over now, we're positive, something will show up in your house in the future. Remember to stay calm and observe before you leap or sprint to the ER. After all, you probably have another child or two to drag along with you.
*This number was quoted from the nurse.