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Child Health MSNBC Highlights Caring for Your Sick Child

Posted Feb 18 2009 6:07pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist In keeping with the chilly weather theme of boosting kids immunity, MSNBC recently featured Dr. Tanya Altman, a Today contributor who highlights how to care for kids with colds and the flu. Some symptoms go away on their own, yet others can be more serious so how can parents know the difference? Following on the heels of the reported concern regarding the overuse of antibiotics, the Dr. Altman explains what parents should look out for when their little ones are under the weather. Fever For babies under 3 months, a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher means you should contact your pediatrician right away even if it is the wee hours of the night as infants can get sick rather quickly. Over 3 months of age, it becomes more important to observe the symptoms accompanying the fever like a cough or vomiting. If your child is playing normally, keep an eye out for other symptoms and call your doctor if fever persists or if your baby cannot keep fluids down or is having difficulty breathing. Coughs Coughing is often brought on by post nasal drip rather than an infection but how can you tell the difference? Dr. Altman explains that if your childs cough is getting worse as days pass, there is wheezing, difficulty breathing, the cough is keeping him up at night, or if he looks really sick; he should be seen by his doctor right away. Otherwise, if your child has a runny nose and is acting normally between bouts of coughing you may be able to keep an eye on him at home. Runny Nose Probably the most common symptom, runny noses are synonymous with infants and toddlers. Typically, runny noses often go away on their own and the discomfort can be alleviated by running a cool mist humidifier at night, and for little ones suctioning out the gunk. She probably wont like it but she will feel better in the end. Also, be sure she is drinking plenty of fluids. Call your pediatrician if the cold is lasting longer than 5-7 days for infants and toddlers; or if the cold symptoms are interfering with your childs ability to eat, breathe, or sleep as they should be examined right away. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, only a guideline for common symptoms. As always, contact your physician right away if you have any questions or concerns. As a rule of thumb, any symptoms that interfere with your baby or childs ability to intake food or fluids, cause difficulty breathing, or interrupt your childs typical behavior warrants talking to your pediatrician. To help keep colds at bay, be sure kids are washing their hands often, getting plenty of rest, and eating nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables.
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