When you or your kiddo are feeling sick, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. First things first: if anything worries you during your or your child’s illness, call the doc. We love being a double check for you but in this case, follow your instincts and call sooner rather than later.
Next, make a plan. Any time you feel like your child is getting sicker (or yourself), think through your next steps. Is it 3pm on a Friday? Call the office so you can get advice before they close for the weekend. Is it 9am during the week? You may be able to see how things play out if you aren’t too worried yet. Try some medication and/or home remedy tips and see if things improve. I always try to avoid middle of the night or weekend emergencies (not always possible, I know!), simply because it’s inconvenient and more expensive.
In this post, we'll go over some important info like when to seek emergency care, when to call the doctor, and what you can do at home to try and feel better.
Seek Emergency Care
The followings things are considered an emergency and you should call the doctor or head to the nearest ER, no matter what time of day it is:
- Inability to wake up / extreme lethargy
- Acting confused or disoriented
- Severe pain or inconsolable crying in our little ones
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction which could include a rash, trouble breathing, nausea or vomiting)
- Severe vomiting with signs of dehydration (not peeing, bulging soft spot, no tears)
When to Call the Doctor
We can stay at home during most illnesses but there always comes a time when we start to wonder, how long can I let this go on? Here are the top 2-3 signs (per symptom) that your illness is escalating and you should go ahead and reach out to the doctor.
- For all ages, call with any fever lasting more than 72 hours or any fever in the high range (see table below).
- For 0-3 month olds, call the doctor right away with any rectal fever of 100.4℉/38℃ or higher.
- For 3-6 month olds, call the doctor within the next 24 hours with any rectal fever of 100.4℉/38℃ or higher.
- Any difficulty breathing, wheezing or raspy noises.
- Symptoms continue past 2 weeks without signs of improvement.
Runny or stuffy nose:
- You suspect an earache.
- You or your child develop sinus pain/pressure and can’t get rid of it with nasal washes.
- Symptoms continue past 10 days without signs of improvement.
- Vomiting occurs because of the headache.
- You or your child are woken during sleep because of the pain.
- The headache continues past 24 hours.
- Severe pain or you’re concerned it could be strep throat.
- Pain continues past 5-7 days.
- You or your child are showing signs of dehydration and are unable to keep fluids down.
- Vomiting continues past 24 hours.
- You or your child are showing signs of dehydration.
- You or your child are having diarrhea more than 6 times in a 24-48 hour period.
- Any drainage, ear swelling or severe pain.
- A fever is present with the earache.
We’ve got multiple articles on our blog that cover specific symptom guidelines with home remedies so browse around there! I’ll highlight top tips here.
- A teaspoon of honey is a great cough suppressant, especially before bed! Important: our babes under 1 year old may not have honey yet.
- Elevate the head of bed at night using an extra pillow or two, which will help slow nasal drainage and will help decrease coughing. Not okay to do with our babes under 1 year here either. Safe sleep practices mandate they remain flat in their bed with no pillows present.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier to add humidity and fight dry air. This will help loosen up mucus so it can be cleared and will help decrease coughing.
- Hot steam from the shower can loosen up congestion and decrease nasal pressure. Hang out in the bathroom, but not IN the hot shower, especially if you’re doing this for a young kiddo. If this is for you, I trust you can shower in hot water without burning yourself. :)
- Use saline rinses or sprays before nose-blowing which helps thin out mucus, making it easier to clear.
- Ease sinus pain and pressure by applying a warm compress (like a damp towel) across your/your child's eyes and nose.
- Apply petroleum ointment (such as Aquaphor) on the outside of nostrils or lips to prevent chapping.
- Try a butterscotch candy to soothe a sore throat and/or cough - it’s been shown to be just as effective as cough drops. Choking hazard here so save this for ages 5-6 years and older.
Here’s the fever chart we use here at Kinsa:
In general, we recommend not using medication to treat a fever until you land in the moderate fever range, or unless you/your child are very uncomfortable. But when the time comes for medication, you want to make sure you’re like Goldilocks, and getting it just right.
IBUPROFEN (Motrin, Advil, etc) 👇
ACETAMINOPHEN (Tylenol) 👇
We hope this highlighted version of tips is helpful and everyone in the household feels better ASAP! 🤗