The Tooth Terrible (teething tribulations)

My son got his first tooth at 3 months (I got all the luck nursing my first) and at 15 months he could chew his way through most meals. His molars missed the memo and are just arriving (at 18 months). He is not his usual gregarious self to say the least. His appetite has severely decreased, he will only eat meshed up food and he is lethargic (comparatively and no surprise due to his lowered caloric intake). We, as usual, first wondered (or rather freaked out) whether he had an infection or a virus, but we noticed the suspects at the scene peering out as if waiting for a larger audience as well as the telling incessant holding of his hand in his mouth as he wailed. He was also crying out when we brushed his teeth. After an assessment of the crime scene, in which the protruding molars were prominent, we knew he was indubitably teething. Our only concern was that he was also spiking fevers which our pediatrician advised us could not be attributed to teething. If the fever were above 100 (37.78 celsius), there was something else causing it, he maintained. Of course just because your toddler is teething doesn't mean they can't also be miserable due to a virus or infection but following Occam's razor and knowing our son runs hot, it seemed to us that there were not multiple culprits and the simplest solution was that he was getting his molars. It makes sense to us that his temperature would spike, as the gums during teething would be more vulnerable to infection and the body would spike up the temperature to avoid it. Several of my friends have said this happened to their children also. It would also make sense that different children react differently. My son may be like me - I spike high fevers when I am sick, more than most people.  I sleep a lot when I am sick (usually I can never sleep more than 7 hours unlike some people that normally want or need 8, 9 or 10 hours, like my hubby, who got a rude shock when he became a father). My son does the same. Fevers and sleep appear to be the way that my body and my son's fight infections and viruses.

From a legal perspective, it is the safer option for the medical profession to say that fevers should not be attributed to teething and to have parents take their kids in to be assessed. If doctors were more lax and said that fevers could be attributed to teething, non-medical professional parents may miss other symptoms and/or fail to keep as frantic a watch over their child's fever, possibly letting it spike too high. Excluding all variables is the best way to avoid a claim if in fact there were something wrong as otherwise the doctor may be found to be negligent. Many medical decisions appear to be premised on limiting liability to the point of absurdity. We were told that the fevers could be due to a surge of hormones (may be this is why pregnant women can double up as kitchen appliances) which could be determined from a blood test. I asked what action we would take if we found a positive result (being paradoxically, a negative result). The answer? Nothing. Sorry  - I'm not interested in putting my son - who has already had to undertake numerous invasive exams - for mere esoteric interest.

Of course, I may well be wrong. After all I am not a doctor. I'm not even close. The last time I sat in any biology, let alone science class, I wore a school uniform (with a hemmed skirt of course), listened incessantly to grunge, had to deal with regular pimple crisis and thought I knew more about the world than I do now (oh, how it all comes back at you with the next generation).  None of this is meant to be taken as medical advice. I better use a disclaimer to limit my liability.



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