Monday, October 29, 2007

Cold and Flu Season: When to Take your Child to the Doctor

It’s late and I just got home. It was another very busy day in my clinic. Everyday I’m educating parents regarding their sick child. Sometimes it’s not always easy to tell when you should go to the doctor. A fever is considered any temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. has a good article on fevers.
Here’s what I tell my parents:

Seek medical attention if:
• There has been a fever present more than three or four days.
• A cough has been present for more than 2 weeks.
• A cold or upper respiratory infection has been present for more than a week to 10 days.
• There are focal symptoms such as ear pain, throat pain, chest pain or tightness.
• There is persistent vomiting or diarrhea.
• There is a fever greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit in an infant less than 3 months of age.
• There is a fever > 102 in an infant less than 2 years of age particularly if there are no other symptoms. This could mean they have a urinary tract infection.
• If you have any questions or concerns.

Go to the emergency room if:
• A child looks very ill or lethargic or is difficult to arouse.
• A fever is accompanied by a rash. Particularly if it looks purple or like blood under the skin.
• There is difficulty breathing and drooling.
• An infant/child’s lips are blue or they appear to stop breathing.
• You child has a seizure.
• Your child has a fever and stiff neck and/or severe headache.
• Your infant’s soft spot is bulging.
• Your child is inconsolable.

If you’re unsure whether to take your child to the doctor call your pediatrician. You should be able to talk directly to you doctor the same day. You may have to wait a few hours until they can get space in their clinic but your call should be returned by noon if you call in the morning or by end of the work day if you call after lunch. If your child is ill and needs to be seen that day, they should be able to accommodate you. Don’t expect to be seen the same day if it’s a chronic problem and can wait until the next day.

Sheila Cason, MD



Anonymous Swistle said...

I told our pediatrician at the end of the last Cold & Flu Season (which seemed to stretch into JUNE!) that "when to call the doctor" was one of the most challenging parts of parenting for me. It seems like I'm always wrong! I take the child in--and it's nothing. I wait it out--and I should have brought him in sooner. I wish for a little readout panel!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Sheila Cason said...

The list above is very comprehensive because I didn't want to miss anything but there are a few basic rules that I go by and tell my parents in the clinic:

1. Fever more than 4 days needs to be checked out even if you brought them in on day 2 and found it was a virus. The fever should resolve. It still may be a virus but needs another check up to be sure.

2. Any specific complaint.

3. First a cold or virus for about a week and THEN a fever.

4. Looks ill.

5. Young infant with fever.

6. Vomiting or Diarrhea a lot! Like 10 times a day and/or with fever or blood in the stool.

See the post for more specifics!!

Just call if you have questions! We'll tell you when you need to come in!

11:37 AM  

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