If your children are unwell you can feel that your parenting skills are really being tested. It could be that you are not sure what to do, how to look after them or just worry about them a lot. There are things that you can do to make sure that they are comfortable and get the care that they need.
You need to start by checking exactly what their symptoms are so that you can decide on the best treatment. If you can it is a good idea to ask them, but if they are too little then you will just have to use observation. You will know if your child is out of sorts but it is difficult to know if they are in pain unless they can tell you. You should be able to feel if they have a temperature and know whether they have less energy than usual or if they seem distressed. They may also have an upset stomach which could be caused by something they have eaten or a bug or could come along with another condition. It can be hard, particularly with a baby to know whether symptoms are serious enough to warrant using a doctor or hospital. It can be good to speak to your health visitor about it as they have regular clinics and may even visit you regularly. They are also very experienced in babies and young children and so will know whether you need to be concerned about their symptoms or not.
Medicate and make comfortable
You may know that certain symptoms will reflect a certain illness. For example, we all know what the symptoms of the common cold are and so if you child has a sore throat, runny nose, cough and temperature or a combination of a few of these, then it is most likely a cold. We are also aware that paracetamol will help reduce pain and that ibuprofen will reduce inflammation and so we can buy the appropriate children’s medication containing these things to give them. It is also always wise to make sure that your child is well hydrated when ill and is well rested, so some early nights or daytime naps could be needed. Try to keep them at a comfortable temperature as well. Think about what they are wearing and whether this is suitable and whether they need covering up or stripping off. They may want some cream of some sort to sooth a rash or similar condition or a support bandage if they have any sort of sprains or similar problems.
Talk to pharmacist s
If you are not sure what is wrong or how to treat the symptoms that your child has, then it is wise to speak to a pharmacist. Try to talk to the actual pharmacist rather than a dispensing assistant as they will know much more as they have more training. If possible try to take your child with you so that they can examine them if necessary. They may advise you to go to the doctor if they cannot sell your treatments over the counter due to the age of your child.
Take to Doctor
If the pharmacist cannot help you or if your child is very unwell and you think they will need medicine from a prescription then go to the doctor. Make sure that you tell them everything about your child’s health and symptoms. If you think that you might forget then write it down before you go. It can also be wise to write down what the doctor tells you with regards to treatment, just in case you forget or take someone with you who will remember. It can be easy to forget things like this when you are very stressed or have a lot to do.
Go to A&E
A&E should only be used for emergencies however, there are a few exceptions. If you need a doctor and surgeries are closed then you may need to go but telephone the out of hours doctor first and they will advise you as to whether you should go and when. If your child has a gash that needs stitching or sticking back together then it is unlikely that this will be able to be done anywhere but A&E but you could check with your surgery first if you think they may be able to do it. Otherwise use A&E for emergencies, when you know that your child cannot wait for treatment.
Try to avoid search engines
If you go to a search engine and look up your child’s symptoms you are likely to be told that they have a serious illness or something very rare. Due to the nature of search engines it seems that they tend to flag up the most serious conditions rather than the most common and more likely ones. This means that you are likely to panic and worry. The NHS website can be a useful place to go in some circumstances but try not to self-diagnose. It seems that people do have a mistrust in doctors and feel that they are only trying to prescribe drugs due to pressure form ‘big pharma’. However, in the UK the NHS is short of money and each surgery/doctor has a budget to stick to and so they will not prescribe something unless it is really necessary. It is also worth remembering that not only have they had eight years of training but they have also had experience of treating many patients and so they are very much more experienced than your friend, someone online or a search engine.
Check with the School
Schools have different regulations with regards to whether children can attend with certain illnesses. It is worth checking with school whether your child can attend or not. Secondary schools tend to want children to attend as much as possible even when they have contagious illnesses such as conjunctivitis whereas a primary school may rather they did not attend with this sort of thing. You can telephone school to ask them. The child may be too unwell to attend of course and this will be up to you to judge, but it is worth bearing in mind that illness tends to feel worse first thing in the morning as well as last thing at night so they may begin to feel better once they get to school and school will send them home if they feel they are too unwell to stay there.