How to Identify Illness and Care for a Sick Child - Dad for Beginners How to Identify Illness and Care for a Sick Child - Dad for Beginners

Dad for Beginners

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How to Identify Illness and Care for a Sick Child


There is a lot to complain about as a new parent. The daily routine of keeping your child alive is a difficult task. Moreover, there is a laundry list of items that can complicate it. One of the more irritating, painful, and exhausting experiences for a parent is trying to cure a sick child. Children get sick for the same reasons adults do, the only real difference is that a child, particularly a baby, cannot articulate their pain or symptoms. This is where you as the parent have to be nothing short of a magician in healing them. Channel your shaman-esque mystical healing powers because truly, caring for a small child who’s sick requires superhuman strength.

In much the same way adults fall ill, so to do kids. The relative immunity of children is surprisingly strong given they’ve been exposed to so little throughout their brief lifespan. However, when a child does fall ill, there isn’t initially an abundance of ways to identify it. Babies and young children are inherently needy creatures and so when a child is wailing, often times the legitimate reason is simply no reason at all. Kids wail. That is a well-established fact.

In identifying illness in a child, often times it is through the variety of bodily fluids excreted from their many orifices. Children are leaky. That’s probably an engineering flaw in the intelligent design that’s never really corrected over time…only controlled to a greater degree as they age. However, the color and consistency of bodily fluids leaking from the many cracks and crevices of a child are often an indicator of illness. Typically as a parent you’ll develop a certain expectation for the mucus and discharge oozing from your child’s holes since you see it and clean it literally every few hours. Over time, you’ll become keenly aware of when some bodily substance is slightly off, whether it’s a bit discolored or sludgy or slimy. It is in this way that identifying sickness in a child isn’t entirely different from diagnosing a malfunctioning vehicle. By cleaving to the normalcy of your child’s daily leaks, you can better hone your ability as a ‘mechanic of the flesh’ and be aware instantly of when a seemingly benign bodily substance may need a higher degree of attention.

Aside from the mucus and pus seeping from your child’s body, there are countless other physical clues to help you in diagnosing your child’s illness. Most of these clues involve screeching or crying at a higher-than-average-volume. Because young children cannot vocally articulate where or why something hurts it is their natural instinct to just scream uncontrollably until you, the parent, do something about it. After what’s assuredly been several months’ worth of sustained noisiness anyway, you’ll be surprisingly well-connected to recognizing the sound of an “I’m sick” scream. In much the same way whales communicate through a variety of multi-frequency pulses, you too can navigate the physical pain of your child using only the prolonged wails of agony to identify potential illness.

In your quest to answer this question and ease the pain your child is experiencing, you’ll notice behavioral symptoms as well that can help you even further pursue the proper course of action. Similar to the routine handling of bodily fluids, the routine behavioral cues of your child will change as well when he or she is sick. Whether it be through a lack of play, a change in sleep habits, a refusal to eat, or an impromptu reenactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, something your child will do will be out of the ordinary and will symbolize a need for medical intervention.

It is common for parents of a sick child to immediately think that a doctor or even a hospital visit is mandatory when a child falls ill. This, in fact, cannot be further from the truth. Children are strong, rugged, and built for endurance kind of like a jeep. There are various at-home, do-it-yourself cures a quick search through the interweb will reveal, usually involving things you already have in your own home. Old world remedies work great in these situations and are often times solutions your own parents used that may or may not have gone out of style. It’s a little known fact that the most effective way to cure the common cold in an infant is to rub vodka all over their naked skin and sacrifice a cantaloupe beneath a full moon. Look it up.

The most important thing to remember in these situations is not to panic. All children fall ill at some point, just like all adults. It is normal and natural and in many instances, actually healthy to be sick on occasion. The late George Carlin once recollected that the reason he never received a polio vaccine was because he grew up swimming in the polluted East River near New York City and was thus immune to virtually everything. In a similar fashion, children possess a far greater physical strength to illness than adults most likely because their bodies have not yet been compromised by the unhealthy and damaging “recreations” that we grown-people indulge in so much. The best thing you can do for your child is to let him or her sleep and attend to the tidal force of neediness as it comes. Odds are he or she is fine and if not, then certainly your insurance company offers a reasonable deductible for infant services.

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