23 Aug 2014
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Beware Dr. Google

When our parenting columnist's daughter had an unusual rash and fever, she consulted Dr. Google. Find out why that was such a bad idea.

Beware Dr. Google

When my 10-year-old daughter's doctor diagnosed her with scarlet fever, I thought he was joking.

I thought scarlet fever only happened to people in the 1800’s… and that it killed them.

“No really,” he assured me. “Strep throat with a rash is called scarlet fever.” No worries, he assured us, “she’ll be better in a few weeks, probably.”

She was given antibiotics and got better after just a few days. Her rash went away.

Then suddenly an even fiercer version of the rash appeared. Plus, she had a fever of 101.

As always, it happened late at night when you can’t easily take your child to a doctor, and you’re not sure it’s worrisome enough to do that, anyway.

So I consulted Dr. Google, instead. He’s always available and convenient.

Unfortunately, Dr. Google told me she could have everything from a rare, deadly form of scarlet fever to the bubonic plague.

Convinced this strange, painful sunburn that was covering her whole body and making her itch incessantly must be something horrible, dangerous and potentially deadly, I couldn’t sleep… though admittedly, I couldn’t have slept anyway since I was hired to scratch her back and legs all night.

We went back to the doctor first thing in the morning. By this time, my little Girlzilla’s lymph glands were swollen. Welts covered her from neck to toe, she looked sunburned and her face was swollen considerably.

Nurses looked at her sympathetically.

“We’ll do more tests,” the doctor said.

Five vials of blood later, my 65-pound daughter stood, woozy from the ordeal and got sick in the parking lot on the way to the car.

We later learned, the doctor had misdiagnosed her. The blood tests revealed she never had scarlet fever. She actually had mononucleosis and when you give amoxicillin to someone with mono, a terrible, majorly itchy, full-body rash often appears.

It would take a long, long miserable week for the rash to disappear.

So, heads up parents: If your doctor diagnoses your child with scarlet fever, ask for a blood test to confirm.

If your child is diagnosed with mono, don’t let your doctor prescribe amoxicillin or any other form of penicillin.

The good news is, unlike adults, kids recover remarkably fast from mono. Just two weeks later, she was her chipper self again.

But mono causes the spleen to enlarge, which is potentially dangerous. She’s had to stay out of P.E. for a month now and had to drop soccer for the rest of the season. Any impact to her stomach could potentially injure her spleen right now.

Recently, as we were walking back from school to our house, she asked, “What’s a spleen?”

“I dunno,” I confessed. “I can’t ex-spleen it. Go Google it.”

Google’s great for answering all of the impossible questions kids ask.

Just be careful asking Dr. Google about mysterious medical symptoms.

If you Google “causes of swollen lymph glands,” Dr. Google will inform you it can be anything from a common cold to tonsillitis, syphilis and even lymph cancer.

Great way to worry yourself to death. I know from experience not to ask Dr. Google about mysterious symptoms for this very reason. But I still do. I can’t help myself. I’m addicted.

Look what I just Googled: “How to Kill Your Google Addiction.”

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