The 3 Day Sickness Rule

the 3 day sickness rule2I have an, according to myself, general healthy distrust of doctors. As a parent, this is very important because Ean wasn’t even born yet when we were already getting stupid advice from actual educated professionals. Everything from suggesting C-section without cause and misreading the ultrasound, to advocating formula over breastmilk.

Regarding colds and similar sickness I wrote a bit of a shopping list for parents to pick up, just to have as a first aid kit in case your kid gets sick in the middle of the night and running to the pharmacy isn’t an option. You can read it by clicking here.

What I haven’t talked about though is my 3 day rule for being sick. In our family, this applies to all of us. It’s simple, if your symptoms have not reached their peak after 3 days, on the 4th day you go to the doctor (unless it’s a serious illness with high fever or any other dangerous or health/life threatening symptoms, of course!)

Ana is the type who wants to go see the doctor at the first sneeze or cough. I’m the opposite. What is the doctor going to say? Yup, that’s a sneeze alright, here are some pills. Pills and medicin in general are something you should be cautious with. I’m not talking about vaccinations, obviously, get those, don’t be a damn troglodyte! I’m talking about antibiotics and other type of medicin that doctors sign off on as if they were Tic Tac’s.

About a week ago, Ean started showing symptoms of a cold. He was a bit congested with a runny nose, without it getting worse for a few days. 3 days ago it built up to a proper cold with sore throat (pained facial expression when coughing) along with more and thicker mucus.

2 days ago he was a bit worse with slight fever and increased mucus production and more painful coughing. In came the first aid kid with the Näsfrida and Calpol. Yesterday he was at the same level with painful cough, slight fever but otherwise alert, happy, healthy appetite and drinking plenty of water (water is one of the most important things to consume when sick, especially with fever!)

Ana caught his cold and since she had to take time of from work and go to the doctor, Ean came along to be checked as well. Immediately, a list of 4 medicines were written up and I asked all the questions I had during the visit, to determine which one of those medicins I would actually buy. It’s so easy to blindly just say yes sir and march to the counter and pick up the drugs. But don’t! Ask, be curious, the child can’t speak for himself so it’s your responsibility to know everything about everything.

After the consultation I agreed to buy Ibuprofen for the throat pain and fever, a nose spray to reduce swelling and inhibit the mucus production which was gathering in his throat (you don’t want that getting into the lunges). The doctor wanted me to give him antibiotics as well but I decided not to. During a cold, especially with pain, it’s good to get help but antibiotics are not to be taken lightly, we need a healthy immun defence to keep our bodies strong! I asked what symptoms to look for in case he got worse, the most common thing she said, is simply fever. Easy enough to monitor without any need to communicate with him or do any guesswork.

Today his state remained pretty much the same and for me, that is a good sign, it means the body is fighting off the infection. Ean can blow his nose but to get the deep icky stuff out, we continued using Näsfrida and I’ve been working hard on teaching him to cough, to dig into it despite the pain and understand that it is beneficial. This afternoon after his unstable nap he woke up coughing a lot and I could hear the mucus traveling up and down his throat.

I took him in my arms, asked him not to cry, to be quiet to not aggravate the throat pain and to focus on coughing and spitting. I coughed with him, like a gorilla I was pounding my chest and growling to make him understand the force and technique needed to move the mucus out and to finally spit it out. I held him tight against my chest while patting his back and kept coughing and growling with him and out came a Ghostbusters package from down his throat which unfortunately also triggered his gag reflex and made him vomit. If you panic in this moment, you will freak the child out, so I cheered him on and kept telling him he’s okay, to mind his throat, be calm and quiet and that he’s doing fantastic.

With a handful of mucus and clothes covered in puke we took him to the bathroom and had a nice hot shower to sooth and relax him. Immediately after his voice was a lot more clear and he went back to his regular happy self. I just had to keep reminding him to stay quiet, to let his throat rest, not get aggravated.

To be on the safe side I went back to the pharmacy late this afternoon and consulted with the pharmacist about Ean’s current state and we agreed, as long as the symptoms are not worse, letting 3 full days pass is okay. Full disclosure, they did say it’s not a bad idea to get him on antibiotics at this point but they respected my reluctance and desire to let his body deal with the sickness (but again, don’t mix this up with vaccinations, those are crucial, essential and life saving!).

It’s about midnight when I’m writing this and tomorrow morning will be the 4th day. According to the latest bed reports from the Mrs, his breathing is clearer with less snoring and deeper sleep and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my 3 day rule remains undefeated.

I’m not writing this as a medical professional, nor as a paranoid medicine conspiracy theorist. My point is just this, I know it’s a bit scary sometimes when your kid is sick and it’s easy to panic… but don’t. You’re in charge of the ship and you have to be smart and educated about it. Running for antibiotics t isn’t always the best way to go. Sometimes it’s important just to be patient, to be there and aware, to comfort and work on your communication with your child who still has no intellectual understanding of sickness and pain and maybe doesn’t know how to properly cough, spit or blow his nose. Your child relies on you to be the piller, the all knowing magical giant who makes all the boo-boo’s go away. So if and when you go to the doctor, ask, understand, question, scrutinise and weigh your options to make the BEST choice, not just the easiest or quickest way out.

Side note: Just in case you are not at all aware of the issues of antibiotic resistance, here’s some short info about it: https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html