When Should You Call Your Pediatrician?

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It’s hard not to worry and panic when your kids are sick. Seeing them not feeling their best brings that out in us, right? While we want to get them feeling better as soon as possible, it’s important to remember that not every symptom requires a call to the doctor. If your child has a simple cold or low-grade fever, a call to the pediatrician isn’t necessary. But there are definitely times when you need to call. So when should you call your pediatrician? Here’s a basic guideline for illnesses and symptoms that warrant a call to your doc’s office.

When it comes to fevers, when should you call your pediatrician?

Fevers can be scary, for sure, but they’re not necessarily bad! If your child has a low-grade fever, it means their body is fighting off whatever infection or virus they’ve contracted. But not all fevers are created equal, and some fevers do require a call to your doctor.

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For babies under the age of 2-3 months, call your pediatrician for any fever, even one as low as 100.4. Baby’s immune systems are still developing, and any sign of infection needs to be addressed. If your baby is older than 3 months and has a fever accompanied by other symptoms, like lethargy or vomiting, give your doctor a call. Also call your doctor if your child has a fever that lasts longer than three days, or doesn’t respond to any medicines or relief at home.

When should you call your pediatrician about vomiting or diarrhea?

If the vomiting or diarrhea is a single episode, no need to call your doc. Keep your kiddo comfortable and keep the fluids coming. But if the symptoms are severe and worsen over the course of a few hours, or don’t get better over the course of a few hours, a call to your pediatrician is in order.

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If your child is showing signs of dehydration, definitely call your pediatrician. Your doctor will likely want to examine them and may order blood or urine tests to make sure the dehydration isn’t serious. If it is, IV fluids may be required.

When it comes to other common illnesses and symptoms, when should you call your pediatrician?

There may be times when your child exhibits different symptoms that you’re not sure require a call to your pediatrician. We’re gearing up for cold and flu season, so plenty of coughing and respiratory issues will be making the rounds! Again, if your baby is 3 months old or younger, it’s a good idea to give your doctor a call at the first sign of illness. In small babies, colds can very quickly develop into a more serious issue, like pneumonia. In older kids, give your doctor a call only if your child is having trouble breathing, the cough persists for longer than a week or a stuffy nose that lasts longer for 10 days, or if they also have an earache.

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Rashes in kids are very common, and generally don’t warrant a call to your pediatrician. You can treat most rashes at home with antihistamine medication or topical creams. But if your child has a persistent rash and feels pain at the site of rash or the rash feels warm to the touch, or the rash is purple and bruise-like and doesn’t respond to OTC remedies, give your doc a call.

One time you definitely want to call your pediatrician is if your child has pain while peeing, especially in girls. That’s a sign of a urinary tract infection, and left untreated, UTI’s can quickly develop into more serious issues.

So when should you call your pediatrician? It really depends, but generally speaking, mild or common symptoms can be treated at home. Follow your gut and remember, if you’re unsure, it never hurts to call.

(Image: iStock / SeventyFour)