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You Should Call the Pediatrician If...

Understanding Childhood Illnesses

Last month it was strep throat. This week it was an ear infection. Next up is probably a tummy ache. Kids get sick. A lot. And those are just the illnesses. The injuries come on a fairly regular basis as well -- the bumped noggin, the bruised knee. Childhood can be a perilous time, fraught with bruises, scrapes, coughs and more.

As hazardous as childhood is, it's a breeze compared to what it used to be. Only a few decades ago, parents had to worry about their kids coming down with dangerous diseases like mumps, polio and whooping cough. Fortunately, these days you can follow a pediatrician-recommended vaccination schedule that will save your child the danger and misery of those ailments.

That's not to say there aren't dangerous conditions still out there. And even common illnesses like the flu can occasionally take a turn for the worse.

That's why pediatricians suggest you should be on the lookout for things such as an unexplained rash, continuous or severe pain in the head, ears, throat or stomach, excessive or unrelenting vomiting or diarrhea, delirious or unusual behavior, convulsions or seizures, or extreme irritability and difficulty sleeping.

Other causes for concern include loss of appetite for several days, difficulty breathing, inability to keep down liquids and produce urine, a stiff neck, illnesses that don't improve after four to five days, or a high, ongoing fever.

When it comes to fevers, visit a pediatrician when your child's temperature goes over the following marks:

 Less than 2 months old
 3 to 6 months old
 More than 6 months old
 More than 100.4 degrees F (38 C)
 More than 101 degrees F (38.3 C)
 More than 103 degrees F (39.4 C)

When it comes to injuries, you should seek medical attention when the following occur:

  • A head injury that results in a loss of consciousness (even for a moment), abnormal walking, head or neck pain or inconsolable behavior
  • A severe reaction to an insect bite
  • A snap is heard during an injury, or the injured area swells or is difficult to move
  • Bleeding continues after 5 minutes of pressure, or a wound appears to be deep or longer than inch
  • An attack by an animal

Keep reading to learn how to treat minor illnesses and injuries at home.