If you're a new parent, the debate on whether to go to the doctor may seem a bit bizarre because it seems obvious: if your child is unwell, they need an appointment with their pediatrician. However, planning a medical visit is not always this straightforward. Here are some signs to look out for to determine if your child needs that doctor's appointment. Please note that this information is only meant to guide you, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
1. Complaints About Trouble Hearing
Newborns in the United States undergo a screening test to detect and begin treatment for profound hearing loss and other hearing problems. Young children may also develop hearing problems later in life due to an ear infection, a genetic condition, a reaction to a medication or an injury to the ear. If your child has been complaining of an earache or trouble hearing, the best way to avoid or prevent extra damage to your child's hearing is to schedule an appointment with a pediatric hearing doctor. Your child's pediatrician or otolaryngologist can refer you to one near you.
An audiological exam with a hearing specialist is an important first step to finding an effective treatment option for a potential ear infection or hearing problem. After the hearing test, your audiologist will recommend treatment based on the severity of the medical condition. Where hearing loss has been diagnosed, the audiologist may recommend surgical treatment or hearing aids.
A hearing aid is an assistive hearing device fitted within the ear canal or behind the ear of the patient. It enhances an individual's hearing ability by making ambient sounds audible to the wearer. A typical hearing aid consists of a microphone, speaker, and sound amplifier and serves to alter or diminish ambient noise to suit the degree of hearing loss. As your child develops, they will need recurrent hearing tests and hearing aid fittings as recommended by their audiologist.
2. Time for Periodic Preventive Care Screenings
Preventive care involves regular medical check-ups, immunizations, and screenings for your child. Depending on your family health insurance plan, most preventive health services for children come at no extra cost to you. This is true if you're enrolled in a plan through the health insurance marketplace or if you have Medicaid coverage. All Marketplace health plans and private health insurance companies are required to cover preventive health care services for children, even if you have not met your yearly deductible.
Well-visits for your child will provide you with important information about your child's health and development. Your child's pediatrician will also offer medical advice on how to keep your child healthy. Common preventive care screenings for young children involve nutritional advice on a healthy BMI, screening for Autism, immunizations (including flu shots), developmental assessments, and a hearing test.
It is important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics has clarified that these preventive care guidelines, "are designed for the care of children receiving competent parenting, have no manifestations of any important health problems, and are growing and developing in a satisfactory fashion."
3. Complaints of a Sore Throat
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsil glands found at the back of the throat. These glands support the immune system by fighting germs present in the mouth. Tonsillitis can occur in children of all ages and are often accompanied by the flu, a cough, or a runny nose. A child with tonsillitis may exhibit symptoms like a sore throat, pain while swallowing, fever, bad breath, and poor appetite.
If you suspect that your child has tonsillitis, seek a pediatric specialist for a proper diagnosis. A health care provider may suggest a tonsillectomy depending on how often your child's tonsils get infected, or if their size is making it difficult for them to breathe at night. Tonsillectomies used to be more routinely recommended. These days, experts are less inclined to pursue this course of treatment. A tonsillectomy may be recommended if a child has more than six sore throat episodes in a year.
Always consult your child's pediatrician when you notice unusual health changes in your child. By addressing issues more quickly, you'll have more treatment options available and will be able to help your child overcome illnesses and get back to being a wonderful, healthy, joyful kid.