July 16, 2018

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Influenza, Fevers, Flu and Cold: When to Take Your Child to the Doctor

Colds, Flu, Fever and the Stomach Flu: When to Take Your Child to the DoctorCold and flu season are well underway. All of our doctors at ACMC have seen a variety of illnesses from influenza to the common cold this year. As a pediatrician I commonly hear the question, “When should I take my child to the doctor?”

Sometimes a simple phone call to your child’s doctor office can be enough to ease your mind or let you know it’s time to get to the doctor immediately. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re thinking about bundling up the kids and taking them to the doctor.

For Influenza:

Take your child to the doctor if your child is experiencing the following symptoms.

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bluish or gray skin
  • Not drinking enough fluids which may result in dehydration
  • Acting so irritable they don’t even want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms such as body ache, fever higher than 101, cough, fatigue or other symptoms that improve and then return especially with a worse cough and fever
  • Other long-term conditions like heart or lung disease, diabetes or asthma and then develops flu-like symptoms, which can result in more serious conditions

If your child has flu-like symptoms, an appointment should be made with your doctor within the first two days of illness. Medication may be prescribed, which typically decreases the severity and shortens the length of illness.

If your child is having problems breathing, isn’t waking up or interacting or has a fever over 104 degrees, take them to the nearest emergency room immediately.

For Fevers:

If your child has a high or persistent fever, it’s a good idea to visit your child’s doctor or urgent care. Every child reacts differently to fevers so watch them for abnormal behavior. As a general rule:

  • For babies up to three months old, any fever over 100.4 degrees can be concerning so you should bring your child in for evaluation.
  • For those three months to three years, a fever higher than 102 degrees can warrant a trip to the doctor.

No matter how old your child is, if the fever lasts for more than three days, take your child to the doctor for further evaluation.

For the Stomach Bug:

Unfortunately it can be difficult to escape gastroenteritis, which is more commonly known as the stomach flu. The stomach flu isn’t the same thing as influenza. The stomach flu can be caused by any number of viruses, but is typically a fairly quickly moving illness. Children tend to vomit more than adults with the stomach flu.

If you’re concerned about dehydration (lack of tears when crying, minimal urine or not urinating at least three times a day and very chapped dry lips are good indicators of dehydration), call the doctor’s office for advice. And if your child is unable to keep liquid down for more than a day, you should make an urgent visit to the doctor. A child with a persistent and high fever, abdominal pain or blood in their poop or vomit should also be seen by a doctor immediately.

If your child is under two years old, call the doctor if the virus or its symptoms last longer than two days. For older kids call the doctor if the bug persists longer than three days.

For Colds:

Typically colds just need time to run their course, but there are times colds call for a trip to the doctor.

  • If your child isn’t eating normally, call your doctor.
  • Anytime your child has problems breathing, get to the doctor or ER as soon as you can. It’s especially important if they are making strange noises when breathing in, making loud noises during sleep, have a cough that sounds like a bark or whoop, are coughing so hard it causes them to turn blue or vomit or are breathing fast for more than a few minutes.
  • When your child has a cold that persists for longer than one week, call your doctor. It could be another kind of infection that can be treated.
  • A chronic runny nose can be a common symptom of both colds and allergies. If your child always seems to have a runny nose, you can make an appointment with a doctor to make sure they don’t have allergies.
  • If your child has other symptoms like ear pain, blue lips or a sore throat with a swollen neck or fever, these could be symptoms of something more serious.

Need answers to health-related questions?Free, reliable health care information is only a phone call away. ACMC patients are invited to contact 24/7 Nurse Line for confidential answers to a wide variety of medical questions. When you call, our nurses listen to your concerns and work with you to:

  • Identify and evaluate your symptoms
  • Provide medical information so you can make an informed decision
  • Recommend next steps, and if necessary, make a follow-up appointment with your primary health care provider

As a parent myself, I know that having a sick child can be scary.  When in doubt don’t hesitate to make a call to your doctor’s office. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and your child’s doctor will help determine a proper course of treatment even if it’s as simple as good old-fashioned TLC.

IMG_6817Dr. Atul Mishra is a pediatrician at ACMC in Marshall. A pediatrician specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents as a primary care provider or by referral for more serious health issues.

ACMC pediatricians provide well-child visits, outpatient and inpatient care for ill children, and coordinate and manage care with other specialists.