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1.25.2011

The case for knowledge, part 2

Child with Meningitis

My kids contracting meningitis is one of my biggest fears as a parent. It's a scary disease that progresses quickly and can be life threatening. But I don't let that fear rule my life- I don't believe that's healthy. I don't avoid taking my kids out, I don't sanitize everything they touch... I think it's more effective to help them develop a strong immune system through exposure to bacteria, probiotics, and a healthy diet.

But how do you protect your children from a scary disease like meningitis without putting him or her into a plastic bubble? The only thing you can do is know what warrants an immediate call to the doctor.



As I have mentioned before, I don't take my kids to the doctor very often. They don't get sick often, and most of the ailments the contract are minor (sniffles, cough with no other symptoms, or non-febrile ear infection). I don't like to give my kids antibiotics for minor illnesses (like said non-febrile ear infections). But on the other hand I have a very set list of things that would incite me to either immediately call the doctor or even run my child to the emergency room. This list is not something I came up with by chance- I have read tens of lists of "when to call the doctor, when not to call the doctor" aimed at parents, as well as many other medical articles concerning children.

Under the following circumstances I would immediately act by calling the doctor or going to the ER:

-Rash that isn't dermatitis or excema (my kids have had enough of both that I know easily what they look like...), most especially if the rash is spreading.
-A fever of 102 or higher would make me call the doctor. A fever of 104 would make me drive to the ER. Fast.
-Any disorientation or confusion (also directly to ER)
-Any head injury that leaves a scary mark OR is accompanied by confusion, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. So far this one is responsible for all our ER visits.
-Puking or diarrhea that lasts more than 12 hours.
-Facial or neck swelling.
-Obvious trouble breathing or wheezing.
-Low fever (or other signs of general illness like lethargy) accompanied with complaints of headache or neck pain (I would call the doctor first).

Those are my big ones (besides, you know, an obviously broken bone or a big gash that needs stitches). I think it's a reasonable list. Anyone with medical knowledge (all you doctors and nurses out there...) who would like to add or amend this list, please let me know!

There is no way I can put myself in the shoes of the mother in the article above. It would be a terrible situation to be in. I also know that people say things they don't mean when they're upset. That's why I'm really put off by the mom's quote at the end of the article... not the fact that she said it because there is no blaming her for being upset, but the fact that they published it. Living your child's entire life like every little sniffle or headache is potentially a life threatening illness is no way to live for you OR your child. The only thing you can do is know when to act, and when one of the things on the lists come up act immediately by at LEAST calling your doctor.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a doctor or any other health professional.  I am simply passing on information that I have gleaned from doctors and articles written by doctors.  Don't take my word as gospel- do your own research and make your own judgement (and when in doubt, call your doctor).

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