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Wishek Hospital

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Tuesday
Nov112014

Pediatric Health

Are my child's symptoms serious enough to see a medical provider? Does he really need to get vaccinated? What can I do to beef up her immune system? These are all questions you may have as parents. Here are some tips to help you navigate the health care system based on information derived from kidshealth.org and Wishek Hospital and Clinic's PA-C/FNP Polly Benson.

1. Make a medical home.  Establishing a long-term relationship with a pediatrician or primary care provider is to your advantage. “Building rapport with a provider ensures someone who, when your child becomes sick, already knows your family history,” says Polly. While many people travel to see pediatricians, a local clinic like ours is a great place to begin establishing pediatric and family care.

2. Don't skip checkups.  It's important to keep regular checkups even when your child isn't sick. This way, doctors can make sure they are developing as expected and can catch any health concerns early. The WHC encourages regular well-child exams to evaluate their physical and mental health including growth and development, nutrition, behavior, sensory screenings, up-to-date immunizations, and parent education.

3. Keep vaccines up to date.  To immunize or not to immunize is a question commonly asked by parents. One thing is certain: diseases like polio and diphtheria have become rare in the U.S. due to the continuity of vaccinations.

“There is certainly controversy about immunizations,” says Polly. “I do think children need to be immunized, but there are people not immunizing their children because they have heard negative things about them.”

That's why Polly is an advocate for self-education, researching the facts before making up one's mind about medical advice. Immunizations for children range from birth to college-age children and are distributed by the County Health Nurse.

4. Don't delay care. When kids are sick, it can be difficult to determine if they need to see a medical provider. Ultimately, if you're unsure, “common sense is the biggest thing. Trust your gut and what you see. But if your child looks more sick than usual, it's best to come in,” says Polly who referred to “5 Serious Symptoms in Children Never to Ignore” found on webmd.com for parents to use as a sounding board:

1. High Fever (child older than 1). “Don't look at the thermometer so much as their other symptoms,” says Polly. If your child is eating and drinking, skip the trip to the hospital. If the fever lasts four or more days and is accompanied by a sore throat or earache, bring them to the clinic.

A fever for children is defined as 100.4°F rectally or 99.5°F orally.

2. Bad Headache. Call your provider if your child's headache is so intense that they can't play, eat or enjoy a favorite TV show. If your child gets headaches often, this should be looked at by a provider.

3. Widespread Rash. To be safe, anytime your child has small red or purple non-blanching dots on a widespread area, lip/facial swelling or difficulty breathing, seek emergency care.

4. Stomach Bug. Monitor how often they are vomiting or having diarrhea. Vomiting three times a day simply calls for administering electrolytes at home, whereas eight bouts of diarrhea in eight hours needs medical attention for dehydration.

5. Stiff Neck. A stiff neck in combination with a fever, light sensitivity and headaches can indicate meningitis, a true medical emergency.

5. Check it out before you act on it. Health information is available now more than ever before thanks to the internet. “There is reputable and reliable support out there,” says Polly, “but there are also people with agendas.” Polly recommends parents frequent sites she trusts for guidance, like webmd.com, mayoclinic.org, aap.org, healthychildren.org, cdc.gov, and the “Healthy Children” app from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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