Assessing Illness

How can you tell if your child is sick or if you’re making a mountain out of a molehill? 

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Parents often ask me if they are over-reacting about their child being sick. My response to them is if your gut feeling is that there is something ‘wrong’ with your child, then please seek help. It is better to seek help and be reassured that a child is okay than to have a sick child at home and not seek medical help because you think you are over-reacting.

I often give an example of my own son’s experience and reassure them that it’s okay to bring them in to the ER if they have doubts about the child’s well-being. When my son was an infant and I was still a medical student, he contracted a respiratory infection called RSV. He developed progressively worsening respiratory difficulty to the point that he stopped eating and drinking and ultimately became profoundly dehydrated. All throughout the ordeal our pediatricians continued to reassure us over the phone that he was fine, yet our parental intuition was telling us otherwise. We eventually brought him into an ER, where he was found to have a critically low oxygen level and significant dehydration. He was admitted to the hospital for five days and subsequently did fine, but this incident taught us a painful but important lesson on parental intuition.

Ketan Trivedi, MD, a dad of  three children and an emergency medicine physician on staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center in Mansfield, Texas

Q&A by Wyatt Myers