Sunday, April 19, 2009

When My Kids Are Sick ...

I think I've gotten much better in the past year about not FREAKING out when my children are sick. When Jackson was little the slightest sign of an ear infection and I went to the doctor's right away. I attribute that partly to the fact that I had a WONDERFUL pediatrician in Omaha that was only five minutes from our home. I also attribute it to the fact that I was a new mom and didn't know much about viruses and infections and the like.

When we moved to Santa Maria I had a TERRIBLE time finding a good pediatrician for Jackson. He saw one in town for his two year check up and I swore I would NEVER go back there. I FINALLY found a pediatrician for Jackson and Micah through a loop hole in the system. Long story short ... when Micah was born the on call pediatrician was not accepting new patients, but made an exception for infants he sees at the hospital for newborn wellness checks (he graciously agreed to accept Jackson too). He is wonderful! However, it's a 45 minute drive to his office. SO, between not having a trustworthy pediatrician for Jackson for several months before Micah was born and now having to drive 45 minutes to get to one, I've definitely been more patient about waiting out whatever virus is going around.

Side note: I must also mention that I have a friend who is a pediatrician in Omaha and I call her A LOT when I'm unsure as to whether or not I should take the kids in to the doctor. She's saved me several visits to the doctor and has calmed my motherly nerves MANY times (thanks Marie ... if you ever get a chance to read this during your crazy schedule).

I've learned several tips from pediatricians and other moms that have made those nasty runny noses and horrific coughs a little more bearable. I've also learned a few facts that have given me peace and allowed me to sleep a little better when my little ones are so sick and I feel so helpless:

Some Facts:

Most ear infections are viral related and by the time an antibiotic starts working (about 48 hours) they usually go away on their own. If they are still showing signs of an ear infection after 48 hours then it's probably a bacterial infection and the antibiotics will help.

It is physically impossible for a child's body to generate a fever high enough on it's own (as opposed to being in a hot car) to cause brain damage (don't laugh ... when your child is burning up there are MANY thoughts that run through a mother's mind).

Taking a child's temperature under their arm, ear or forehead are only approximate temperatures. The only way you can get an accurate temperature reading is by taking it rectally (something I have yet to do). HOWEVER, 99% of the time mother's intuition is correct and if you suspect that your child has a fever, they probably do. Tylenol, Ibuprofen or a temped bath will help bring the fever down temporarily (NOTE: fevers are part of our body's defense system, so fevers are a good thing (the only exception would be if your child is under 8 weeks old)). In addition, if the fever is too high usually there will be other symptoms of concern that will warrant bringing them to the ER or doctor (like seizures for example).

You can safely alternate between Ibuprofen and Tylenol every three hours when you suspect that your child (one year and older) has a fever or ear infection in order to make them more comfortable.

Croup lasts about three days and the second day is the WORST! A steamy bathroom and then a walk out in the cold can help calm a croupy bark.

Studies have shown that honey is the best cough suppressant for children over two years (it may even be one year, but I wanted to play it safe).

A Few Tips:

Cool Mist Humidifiers are wonderful for loosening a cough in the middle of the night and for getting all of that yucky snot out (you'll want to change your kids sheets often though). (I also use the empty humidifier (filter removed) as white noise in their bedrooms when they are not sick.)

Putting a few pillows and/or blankets under the mattress will prop your child up to minimize coughing fits while sleeping. However, don't over do it because infants tend to roll to the end of the bed with too many pillows under the mattress.

Letting your infant sleep in a car seat or swing for a few nights so that they can breath more easily does not usually create a habit that you have to break later on, but it does allow for you to get a couple more hours of sleep on the nights when they are sick.

Non-medicated Saline Drops and a Bulb Syringe when used properly for infants (toddler's nostrils are too big and usually they can blow their own nose) work well to unclog an infant especially right before they nurse or take a bottle. However, you can suck all day and you still won't get it all out.

Some Things that Did NOT Work:

BabyVics although it smells really nice, I don't think it did anything for my kids' cough.

DanActive, although I am a huge fan of the benefits of the probiotics in this drink I wouldn't say that drinking it shortened the length of my children's illness (not that it claims to, but I guess it was hopeful thinking on my part).

Anyway, ... can you tell that my kids are sick right now? No matter all the facts and all the tips I still feel so HELPLESS when my little ones can't stop coughing in the middle of the night or they cough so hard that they throw up a little or they wheeze or cry or, or, or. Whenever they are sick like this God uses it to remind me to put their physical and spiritual well being in His hands and to ultimately trust Him.

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