Sick Children

When To See the Doctor

If Your Child Is Sick

True or False? Childhood sickness is a normal part of growing up.
If you said True, you’ve probably realized that a certain amount of illness is to be expected and is not necessarily a cause for alarm. Catching colds and other minor illnesses, in fact, are a part of growing up that will help your child’s immune system become stronger and stronger as time goes on.
If you have a child younger than two, you may feel worried that he or she is constantly sick—but it’s completely normal for children of this age to have as many as 10 illnesses of one type or another every year. After 24 months, the frequency of minor illnesses will probably taper off until your child starts school, flare up again, and then finally settle down to only a few times a year.

When To See the Doctor

Even though it’s perfectly normal to get sick, a cold can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing for little ones, especially babies, and may require a pediatrician’s attention. You will also want to schedule an appointment to see the doctor if your older child or teenager has a sickness that seems to be more than a slight cold, to rule out the possibility of more serious illness.

Malaria: Stay Alert

Malaria is not an illness that usually affects Nairobi residents. Nevertheless, parents should know the symptoms and be alert to them, especially following travel to malaria-prone warmer areas of the region or to other tropical countries. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate malaria-preventative medications and other measures before you travel. If your child has fever and you suspect malaria (or even if you don’t—a child can have malaria and a cold or flu at the same time), don’t delay booking an appointment for immediate testing.

Emergency Situations

Additional urgent illnesses and situations do come up from time to time. Please contact Muthaiga Pediatrics IMMEDIATELY if you encounter any of the following:

  • Trauma (including burns, cuts, head injuries or heavy bleeding.
  • Choking.
  • Convulsions (whether with fever or without).
  • Difficulty breathing (not simply nasal congestion).
  • Child won’t walk or use an arm.
  • Sick newborn (rectal temperature higher than 100.4°F or 38°C, under 2 months of age, extreme irritability, poor feeding, extreme sleepiness).
  • Severe pain.
  • Tender testicle or scrotum.
  • Inability to swallow or sudden onset of drooling.
  • Injured or stiff neck.
  • Dehydration (body fluids low, has not passed urine for 8 or more hours, inside of mouth feels dry).
  • Fever higher than 104.5°F or 39°C.
  • Any situation in which the child appears very different from his or her normal self.

If you’re not sure whether to come in, during office hours please phone our office and ask to speak with one of our trained nurses for immediate advice. If your child becomes ill after office hours, please phone our doctor on call, who will advise you.

Information for the Doctor on Call

When calling after hours with an urgent situation, be sure to have important details and information ready for the doctor. These include:

  • Your child’s name and approximate weight.
  • Symptoms (fever, vomiting, ear pain, etc.).
  • Fever: temperature and how it was measured (rectal, oral, underarm). “Feels warm” is too vague and not helpful.
  • Any drug allergies.
  • Medications given, when and how much.

Most aspects of parenting are common sense, but acquiring the skills to effectively manage your family’s childhood illnesses takes time. If you are ever unsure of what to do to help your sick child, do not hesitate to call Muthaiga Pediatrics. Our staff is here to empower you as you grow your parenting and childcare skills. You’ll find we’re always ready to lend a listening ear and assist with practical advice or medical care.