It's the time of the year for cold, flu and stomach bugs. No parent likes to see their child sick. And many wonder how to tell if the symptoms are likely to pass or if they might be a sign of something more serious. How do you know when it's time to call the pediatrician?
The Paredes family has battled a stomach virus twice in three months. Both times 9-month-old Brandon and 8-year-old Marissa really couldn't hold anything down.
"[Marissa] is a type 1 diabetic so it's very important that she eat and drink every two hours," their mother Karen Paredes, told CBS News. "[Brandon] didn't have any tears when he was crying and he didn't have any wet diapers for almost 12 hours."
Paredes knew at that point it was time to call the doctor. It turned out both children were severely dehydrated and needed IV fluids.
Dr. Robert Adler, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, told CBS News that parents should always use a thermometer because elevated temperatures mean the body is fighting infection. Every baby under two months old that has a fever should be seen promptly by a doctor.
Older kids with a fever should also get checked "if the fever is persistent and high and the child is unable to do the things he usually does," Adler explained.
If your child has a fever with an intense headache and stiff neck it may be a sign of meningitis, which can be very serious.
Parents should also check that their child hasn't developed any rashes, especially one that's visible all over the body. Red and blue spots that don't change when you press on the skin could mean a child may have developed sepsis, a potentally fatal blood infection that requires immediate medical care.
Because any of these symptoms could be an indication of a serious health problem, Adler urges parents never to hesitate to pick up the phone. "Rather than have the anxiety, call the pediatrician and see if this is something they need to be seen for right away or not," he said.
Paredes urges parents to trust their instincts. "If you know your child, you know this is not like them, then something is wrong," she said.