Reminder on the Essential Value of Knowing if your Child's Illness is Mild or Serious

Reminder on the Essential Value of 
Knowing if your Child's Illness is 
Mild or Serious

On December 2, 2009, CNN asked me to present a list of highly
specific signs that would indicate a mild viral illness (cold or flu)
had become severe.

The segment was aired on CNN's morning news program, and
since it does a good job of visually presenting just what these
signs are, I am distributing the link:

I also want to emphasize that knowing these signs allows you to draw
an incredibly important line that can help you achieve two incredibly
powerful goals:

  1. If your child has none of these six signs, chances are overwhelming that the illness is mild, and there is on danger.  The line can help you be calm as you comfort your child, knowing no danger is here.
  2. If your child has some of these six signs, you know you need to get medical attention. The line can help you know when to call for help, reassuring you that you can know just when to call or intervene.
To recap, the six signs are:
  1. Trouble getting air in and out of your chest
  2. Stiff neck- cannot move the neck
  3. Blue fingernail beds 
  4. Severe pain in one spot or area of the body
  5. Altered consciousness- cannot wake, or acting very oddly
  6. Just a sense that something is very wrong
I hope you find this list, the line it creates, and the video demonstration

I have also appended an earlier post, from October, outlining the difference 
between mild and serious illness in a bit more detail.  It is specific for H1N1, 
but so many families found it helpful and so I copy it below so you have this post, 
that post, and the video all in one place.  (Note that I added blue fingernails and 
serious pain to my list of indicators of serious illness.)

Dr. Lavin

or, Knowing When to Worry
and Knowing What to Do

As our nation and community encounter and try to deal with the very
serious epidemic of H1N1 (swine) influenza virus, it makes sense
to take a moment to think about how do you know, when your
child gets sick, when to worry and what to do?

It turns out that the best guide to knowing when to worry and
to know what to do is not the name of the virus.

That is, finding out if the virus causing your child's illness is H1N1
or not, does not help you know how worried to be or what to do.

The key item you need to know is how sick your child is, not the name
of the virus.

So how do you know how sick your child is?

The answer is actually fairly easy, since there are only two possible
answers: mildly ill or seriously ill.

Symptoms of Mild Respiratory Illnesses:
  • Fever (100.8-105.8)
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Achiness
  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble sleep
  • Decreased appetite
Symptoms of Serious Illness:
  • Struggling to get air in and out of your chest
  • Alterations in consciousness
  • Stiff neck
  • A "sense" that something very terrible is happening
Use the above symptoms to tell you how worried to be.
Mild illnesses, even if caused by potentially dangerous germs,
are still mild illnesses.

If you child only has mild symptoms of illness, and no symptoms of
serious illnesses, you have little to worry about.

Of course, should symptoms of serious illnesses ever develop,
one has alot to worry about.

What to Do if You Have A Mild Viral Illness
It turns out that medical science has very little to offer that would
actually make a difference to someone with a mild viral illness.

Antibiotics do not work.

More to the point, antivirals do not work very well either for mild
influenza infections.  

So the use of Tamiflu is not recommended for use in mild viral
infections, it does little good, and could lead
to the drug not working if you really need it.

What you can do is to keep your child comfortable:
lots of fluids, lots of hugging, lots of distractions (videos),
perhaps ibuprofen or acetaminophen if fever or pain is
bothering them.

What to Do if you Have Symptoms of Serious Illness
Call us immediately.
If severe enough, call 9-1-1 first.
If severe enough, we will recommend immediate evaluation in an ER.
Once at the ER, if tests reveal influenza is present, Tamiflu will be used.
If influenza is not present, then the cause will be sought and treated.

H1N1 (swine) influenza virus is potentially dangerous, like almost all

The rules for knowing when to worry and what to do are the same for
H1N1 (swine) influenza virus and all other viruses.

If you have mild illness, you are in no danger, and should be treated with
comfort measures.

If you have serious illness, you should seek immediate medical care. It is
only serious infections with H1N1 (swine) influenza virus for which
Tamiflu is helpful.

Dr. Lavin

The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

No comments:

Post a Comment