Story by: Kim Huston on May 27, 2021
There’s no shortage of health information or symptom-checker apps available on the internet. Parents are busy, so it’s tempting to just pull out your phone and search your child’s symptoms to see what may be causing a particular issue you’ve noticed. However, the best symptom-checker is always going to be your pediatrician.
“When you see your child in discomfort, it makes sense that parents want to understand what’s going on,” said Arlyn E. Lua-Canby, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Shelbyville. “However, looking up symptoms online can lead to unnecessary worry. If you’re concerned, it’s best to consult your pediatrician.”
There’s a lot of health information out there: websites, social media groups and much more. Much of the health content on the internet is written for and tailored to adults and their health care needs. If parents look online for content about children’s health or symptoms, it’s best to seek out information that is verified, scientifically based and focused on children’s health. The content on the Norton Children’s website is reviewed and approved by pediatricians and pediatric specialists to ensure accuracy and safety.
“If you’re looking online and feel confused or you don’t know what to do, it’s best to call your pediatrician’s office, day or night,” Dr. Lua-Canby said. “They can get you answers and direct you to the care your child needs.”
Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, has an after-hours phone line available for current patient families to get their questions answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Norton Children’s licensed nurses answer the phone and can guide parents to the correct care, day or night. They can provide guidance on managing symptoms, whether you need to come into the pediatrician’s office the next day or go straight to the emergency department.
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There is a lot of health information and parents’ groups on social media where parents can talk about their child’s experiences. It’s important to know that these experiences are opinions, and many social media groups prohibit posts seeking medical advice — to prevent a child from being endangered by incorrect medical information.
“Social media is great for families to get support and hear experiences,” Dr. Lua-Canby said. “These groups are great for families of children with chronic conditions, special needs and so much more. If a parent sees something they’re interested in through one of these groups, it’s important for them to talk to their pediatrician to confirm its validity and make sure it’s the right thing to do for their child’s health.”
At the end of the day, your pediatrician is the best person to assess symptoms and give medical advice because they know you and your child.
“As pediatricians, we build relationships with our patients and their parents,” Dr. Lua-Canby said. “We want to help your child to be healthy and thrive into young adulthood just as much as you do.”