The other night I got a message from a family member that said,
” OH MY GOSH, last night my daughter was inconsolable! She finally calmed down after she had a huge poop! I looked on google and it says she may have a LIFE THREATENING BOWEL OBSTRUCTION!!!!”
I get messages like this all the time! I always message back, and I always tell them the same thing!
YOU know your child better than anyone else!! You know their normal, and you know their not normal! TRUST YOUR GUT!!!
Even though I believe you should always go with what your mom gut is telling you, here are 5 reasons you should absolutely stop what you are doing skip the call into your pediatrician and head to your nearest ER, broken down and explained by an actual mother who has actually experienced these reasons and not by scary Google!
- Fever or lack there of – I hear this a lot, my child had a fever of 103.6 so I rushed them to the ER and the doctor was mean to us. Children can run pretty high fevers and be okay. If your child has a fever over 103.6 and they are laughing and playing, go to your pediatrician. If your child has a fever of 103.6 and you cannot wake them up, hop on over to your nearest ER. Here is what I really want you to listen to! Lack. Of. Fever. Does. NOT. Mean. They. Are. Okay! Both times my child was septic he did NOT have a fever! Having a low body temperature is one of the hallmark signs of sepsis! If your child seems sick, and you are continually getting low temp readings on your thermometer, it is not wrong! Bundle your baby up and hop on over to your nearest ER.
- Work of breathing – Holy moly do I see so many videos of babies sent from scared mamas! Anytime I get a video on work of breathing I will ALWAYS tell you to hop on over to your nearest ER! If you think your child is having a hard time breathing, GO. TO. THE. ER! Here a few tips just in case you are on the fence. A retraction, if you see this, do not pass go, do not phone a friend, get in your car and go!
A retraction is when you look at your child’s chest and you see them pulling in the skin right underneath the rib cage when they inhale. It will look like a dimple is forming underneath the rib cage! As they exhale you will see them start to push out their stomach! You can also see this right below their neck as well, both signal big breathing troubles that need immediate medical attention!
Blue lips, hands, and feet. When a child has low oxygen levels their fingers, toes, lips, will start to turn a bluish purple color, but your child CAN have low oxygen levels without seeing this, do not rely on seeing blue to know their oxygen levels are okay!
Fast breathing or panting. A child in respiratory distress will likely be breathing very fast, you will likely be able to hear them breathing. Children are just like adults, if they feel like they cannot get a deep breath will get scared, they will get anxiety, so they will start to breathe faster to over compensate!
These are just a few tips on work of breathing, I want to emphasize here if you believe your child is having difficulty breathing, get into your car and go straight to the ER or call 911, difficulty breathing is ALWAYS a medical emergency and should always be taken extremely seriously!
- When your child is inconsolable– I’m not saying if your child is crying for an hour because they are tired. I’m saying if you have tried every single thing known to man, and you are ready for someone to just freaken sedate them inconsolable! The sole reason I brought my son to the ER one time was because he literally screamed for hours, thrashed around everywhere and nothing I did worked to make him stop, he had a bowel obstruction and him being inconsolable was what saved his life! If you can comfort your child by holding them, if your child will stop crying to eat something, will stop crying to go to sleep, they are not inconsolable! If your child is truly inconsolable you need to get into your car and hop on over to your nearest ER.
How did I know my child was truly inconsolable? – It would have been quicker to drive my son to his pediatrician then it was to take him to the ER, I chose the ER because I knew they had drugs to knock his ass out. He screamed the entire ride to the hospital. You will know if your child is truly inconsolable, there is no mistaking it!
- Green Vomit – If you see your child vomit a substance that looks like nasty green slime, you need to get into your car and head on over to your nearest ER! I had absolutely zero idea of the importance of green vomit until my son had a bowel obstruction! He vomited green vomit, and I believed he had a stomach virus. Had I known green vomit was very dangerous, we would have caught his bowel obstruction way earlier! Green vomit is a sign that your bowels are shutting down!
- Lethargy – I’m not talking about if your child is just extra sleepy and doesn’t want to be messed with, that is not lethargy. If your child is lethargic you will NOT be able to wake them up, you could literally slap them, and they would probably flinch a little and go on back to sleep. Every nurse I’ve ever spoke to has said the same thing, “A child that will fight them, they are not worried about. A child that doesn’t wake up, is the child that needs to be in a trauma room!” When my child was truly lethargic the ER put him in a trauma room, when the nurse put in his iv and he did not even wake up, his face turned as white as the ceiling, because he was truly worried because those are the kids that are pretty sick! If you child is truly lethargic you need to get into your car and hop on over to your nearest ER!
Dehydration – This is such a big one! Mama’s get so scared their babies are dehydrated so fast, even I am guilty of this!
How do you spot true dehydration? You see that lethargy, bingo! If your child is truly very dehydrated they will be very lethargic!
One quick thing you can do is to press on their finger nail, you should see the color change and come back very quickly, if it takes a hot second for that color to come back chances are they are dehydrated!
You can also pinch the skin on the top of their hand right above their wrist, you should see that skin go back down within a second after you let go. If it takes a hot second for that to happen there is a good chance they are dehydrated!
Dehydration can happen quickly when there is both diarrhea and vomiting together in a child, so if you are truly concerned with your child being dehydrated and they are showing symptoms, you need to get into your car and hop on over to your nearest ER.
I am by no means a doctor or nurse, I am just a mama that’s seen a lot and asked a lot of PICU doctors a lot of questions. I hope this has helped you have just a little less anxiety from the scary place of Google! Please feel free to leave your comments, advice, and tips as well to help another mama!