Preparing for Everyday Illnesses

It's hard to predict illnesses or accidents your child may encounter. However, there are things you can do to be better equipped as the gatekeeper of your child's health. In many instances, you may be able to take care of your child's problem without having to call the doctor. On the other hand, if you feel the assistance of a doctor is necessary, there are things you can do that will be helpful to the doctor in deciding how to take care of your child.

Below are a few tips to help you be better prepared to take care of your child's health:

Common Medicines to Keep on Hand
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to use the following medicines and what amount to give your child:

Analgesics (for pain) and Antipyretics (for fever): Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, Panadol, generic); Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, generic)
Decongestant: Pseudophedrine (Sudafed, generic)
Antihistamine: Diphenhydramine (Benadryl, generic)
Emetic (to cause vomiting): Syrup of Ipecac (Give this ONLY upon advice of your child's doctor, nurse or the Poison Control Center. Do not decide to give this medicine to your child by yourself.)
Oral Rehydration Solution: Pedialyte, Infalyte, Kaolectrolyte
Lotions and ointments: Calamine lotion; Hydrocortisone cream 1 %; antibiotic ointment (Neosporin, Bacitracin); protective ointment (A&D, Desitin, petroleum jelly)

First Aid Supplies to Keep on Hand
Thermometer: plastic band-aids (assorted sizes); ace bandages (2-, 4-, and 6-inch sizes); gauze wrap (2- and 3-inch sizes); tape; gauze pads; scissors; calibrated measuring spoon or syringe

What to Do Before you Call the Doctor:

Have a pencil and paper next to your telephone for writing instructions.

Write down a short description of the problem, including specific information, and why you are call.

Take your child's temperature before making the call. This will save time.

Be Ready to Answer the Following Questions:

  • Is the problem getting worse?
  • When did the symptom(s) start?
  • If there is pain, where is the pain?
  • What is your child's temperature?
  • Is your child taking any medications?
  • How is your child's skin color? Pale? Flushed? Blue?
  • What has your child had to eat and/or drink in the last 24 hours?
  • What is the name of your insurance plan?
  • What is your child's weight?
  • How is your child playing?

If your child is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or your local emergency service. Life-threatening emergencies for children may include:

  • Slurred speech (if your child normally speaks)
  • Severe difficulty breathing or breathing that stops for more than 15 seconds
  • Serious injury with broken bones or injury to the neck
  • Second- or third-degree burns over 20 percent of the body
  • Major bleeding that will not stop
  • Signs of shock including extreme weakness, limpness, not moving, not responding, gray or blue colored skin
  • Unconsciousness for more than one minute
  • Fever and rash with purple spots
  • Unable to swallow
  • Deep puncture wound to head, neck, chest or abdomen
  • Seizure lasting more than five minutes or a seizure after a head injury
  • Suicidal thoughts with a plan and means to cause harm
  • Sudden onset of severe headache