Everyone’s looking forward to the holidays—including your pediatrician. So what will you do if your child’s not feeling well, and you can’t contact your doctor?
Here are some common problems that emerge during the holidays—stomach aches, fevers, coughs and colds—and the questions that worried parents wish they could ask. These tips include what you can do in an emergency, plus the information you need to gather and file before your family and doctor goes on break.
1. Ask your doctor about his or her holiday policy
Most doctors inform regular patients of their holiday schedule. But take it an extra step: ask who you can call if there’s an emergency (like their resident at the ER). You may also ask for an emergency contact number, though not all medical practitioners like to give one.
2. Consider your child’s health risks.
Does your child have asthma? Does he tend to have food allergies or migraines? Ask your doctor what you can do for a mild attack, plus any prescriptions for medications. Also ask what kind of symptoms merit a trip to the emergency room, and (as mentioned in tip number one) if there is a particular medical resident that you should look for.
3. Stock up on your first aid essentials.
Be sure to stock up on your child’s regular medicines and medications such as paracetamol and oral rehydration fluids during the holidays—just in case the drugstore is closed during the holidays, too. You should also bring these during out-of-town trips, so you’re not stuck with a situation of having to look for a drugstore in an unfamiliar place.
4. What to do in case of fever
In general, a temperature of 37.8 degrees in infants and 38.1 degrees in toddlers and older children will indicate a fever. A dose of paracetamol and sponge bathing should help bring your child’s temperature down. Give plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Bring your child to the emergency room if your child’s fever doesn’t go down even with anti-pyretics like paracetamol have been given, or keeps returning despite three continuous days of over-the-counter medicine. Also be on alert if the fever is accompanied by vomiting, which may also need dehydration. Note that fever in infants two months and younger should always be taken seriously.
5. What to do in case of stomach pains
Stomach aches may indicate a lot of things, including constipation and lactose intolerance. First try to relieve discomfort by placing a warm water bag on their tummy. However, bring your child to the emergency if the pain is severe or lasts more than three hours, especially in younger children, or if the stomach pain is accompanied by vomiting (a sign of food poisoning).
6. What to do for coughs and colds
Cough and colds caused by viral infections will usually resolve themselves within 5 to 10 days says Dr. Bumanlag. You may give over-the-counter nasal decongestants that your doctor has already recommended (with proper dosage for your child’s age and weight). Also observe if the cough is worsening, and is affecting your child’s ability to breathe.
7. What to do for food allergies
If your child has a history of allergies, your pediatrician can give a prescription for mild allergy attacks. Simple cases can be treated by antihistamines at home. However, closely observe your child for signs of a bad allergy attack such as rashes in the whole body, difficulty in swallowing or breathing and drooling . Bring your child to the emergency room immediately.
8. What to do for food poisoning
Another common holiday illness is food poisoning that causes vomiting and diarrhea among kids. Culprits are often spaghetti, macaroni or fruit salad and foods that are not cooked well. You can manage mild food poisoning at home by making sure your child replaces what she loses with the proper oral rehydration medications. However, bring your child to the emergency room if symptoms persist more than 24 hours.