Last fall, the Department of Education reported that chronic absenteeism due to illness was much higher than in the years previous to the pandemic. This time of year is cold and flu season, and it’s important to know who to turn to when someone in your family gets sick.
Doctor Devin Higgins is a primary care physician in Colorado and a parent of five children. He says having a primary care physician is important because they take the lead in providing care for you and your children. Dr. Devin says that if you’re in a situation where you need to see a specialist, that doctor might focus on just one area of your health. In contrast, your primary care physician keeps track of your complete medical history.
When should you call the doctor?
Dr. Devin says parents worried about their children should call the doctor. He says that as a pediatric doctor, you treat the child for their illness and the parents for their worries. Dr. Devin says he helps parents understand what their child is going through so they can be assured their child will be okay, even if they’re sick. He says that a yearly checkup is enough for pediatric doctors to catch other problems like attention deficit disorders, depression, eating disorders, and other issues.
When should we go to the emergency room or urgent care?
Understanding the difference between going to the emergency room and an urgent care provider is essential. Dr. Devin says the doctors’ focus in an emergency room is whether the patients who have come in are dying. He says they are not worried about whether you are sick but if you have a more critical issue.
An urgent care provider acts more like a family medicine doctor, looking for the most common thing that could be causing your ailment. Dr. Devin says urgent care is the place to go if your child has a cold or the flu but is not struggling in other ways.
If it’s a serious issue, then go to the emergency room. If it can be put off until a little later, it’s best to visit an urgent care provider.
When should we stop giving them medication?
Parents often wonder how long they should give their child medication for their ailments. Dr. Devin says if your child has been taking an over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol and is feeling better, you can stop giving the drug to them. When it comes to an antibiotic, he says your child should take the medicine until it is finished because it works to ensure the bacteria that has made your child sick is completely gone.
What can parents do to prepare themselves for a doctor’s visit?
Healthcare providers will want to know as much historical information as possible when they examine a patient. Dr. Devin says knowing what medicines have not worked well or your child had a bad reaction to is important information for doctors to know as they try to diagnose a solution. He says this is most helpful at urgent care facilities where they may not have access to electronic medical records.
To learn more from Dr. Devin on specific topics and illnesses like RSV, fevers, and stomach flu, listen to his interview in the OnLearning podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts.