It is so hard to see our kids sick. We just want so badly for them to feel better and feel better quick! So what is our instinct…rush to the doctor. However, most of the time this is unnecessary and actually could make them sicker. Let me just say, that this is in no way an anti-doctor post. Not only do I love our pediatrician, I know when she tells me my children need something, they really need it. My hesitation to go to the doctor is mostly not even them. Sure you have the doctors who prescribe an antibiotic for every little booboo or run unnecessary test, but most doctors do love what they do and love helping their patients.
So why do I rarely visit my pediatrician? First, cost. Even if you have stellar insurance, the cost is going to be reflected in premiums overall. If we as a whole go to the doctor a lot, all healthcare cost go up. Second, it is reported that in one visit to the doctor, you are exposed to over 700,000 germs. Also, statistics show that within 2 weeks of a child’s well visit, they are retuning to the doctor for a sick visit. It is my guess that when you return for that sick visit with a weakened immune system and greet those 700,000 germs, your child is bound to catch something. I hear countless times from moms how their child gets sick going to the doctor. Why? Because sick people are at the doctor!
1. How long have they been sick? Most viruses’ last 7-10 days. Are they within the 7-10 with no improvement? In the middle of an illness that seems like an eternity, taking them to the doctor is not going to shorten it. It just has to run its course. If symptoms are getting worse or changing from what I initially thought was wrong, I will take them in.
2. How high is their fever and how long has it lasted? A “high” fever is anything over 102.5 or more. (For those under 1 a “high” fever is much lower. 101.4 is high and 100.4 if the baby is under 3 months) As we already know, a fever is the body’s natural response to illness. I get concerned when a high fever has lasted 48-72 hours with little relief or has remained low for more than 4 days. That signals to me that there is probably something bacterial going on. Usually with a cold, I am already using my trusty garlic for ears and chest. Only twice in the last 3 years have I brought one of my girls to the doctor for fever. Each time, I was told we were on the end of an ear infection and antibiotics were not needed. What a welcomed response to what I used to hear before I learned about garlic and its antibacterial magic!
3. Are you questioning or doubting yourself? Do you know “its just a cold” or whatever illness you suspect but it hasn’t had time to turn the corner? In the pits of a sickness, it is easy to want the comfort of someone who knows better. Believe me! I was just there when the girls had the flu! I knew they had the flu but seeing them miserable was killing me. On day 5 I brought them to the doctor to pay $370 to hear “they have the flu. It has to run its course.” My mommy gut got me. And I am okay with that. I have never had the flu so suddenly taking care of 3 people (the hubby was by far the worst patient!) with it, I questioned everything I knew about treating illnesses. That money, in my mind, was well spent because I got peace of mind.
4. How is their breathing? This one is pretty simple. If they seems to struggle breathing or it is deep in the chest, take them in.
5. Are they lethargic? How is their appetite? When I am sick, I don’t feel like eating so I expect the same from them. But I do watch for lethargy. This is when you cant rouse them with anything. Their favorite toy, food, or show doesn’t excite them. They just lay there. This is a sign something more could be going on. Take them in.
6. What can the doctor do? What will the doctor do that you can’t? If you were told it is something bacterial, would you try natural treatments? If you don’t plan on filling the prescription, why go? Even once I started on the path of natural remedies, I would bring Ava to the doctor just to be told what I needed to treat. Soon I realized I usually knew what they were going to say before I brought them in. So I was spending time and money while dragging my sick kid to the doctor.
7. If it were me, would I go to the doctor? Other than an ob/gyn I can’t remember the last time I went to the doctor. Yes, I can better assess my own symptoms but that doesn’t make it impossible to understand what your child has and how they feel.
Again, I am not saying doctors are bad or that I know more. I just try to take a step back from worried mom mode and look at it rationally. I make it my priority to keep them hydrated and as comfortable as possible. Housework doesn’t exist, cooking is minimal, and snuggles are abundant!
Disclaimer: This post is 100% my personal opinion based on my personal research. I am not a medical doctor. However, I confidently stand by my beliefs and opinions, and I hope that this post will encourage you to do your own research on the topic. When in doubt, please always consult a pediatrician. This is the final post in our Mommy Doctor series. Read all previous Mommy Doctor posts right here.