When your kids are sick, it is hard to resist the urge to take them to the doctor right away. However, many small health problems can be managed on your own without a trip to the doctor. Not knowing when it is appropriate to seek immediate medical attention costs people hundreds of dollars a year in medical costs. Experts suggest that roughly half of all emergency room visits are actually not necessary, because the patient could have waited for routine care treatment with a primary care doctor or medical clinic facility. Most problems in kids and adults, from the common cold to back pain, can be effectively treated at home. Save yourself the time and stress of an ER or hospital visit by reading these tips on when or when not to take your child to the doctor. When in doubt, most hospitals will allow you to speak to a telephone nurse for extra advice.
Coughs and Colds
Most children who are experiencing cold or flu symptoms do not need to see a doctor right away. Many parents want to rush their child to the doctor, but what they don’t realize is that most colds cannot be treated with an antibiotic or any other type of medication. If your child has a cough or cold symptoms, but no major fever, you should try treating him or her at home. Cold medicines won’t cure a cold, but they can help make the symptoms more manageable by helping to break up the mucus congestion in their system. Throat sprays and lozenges can be used to soothe a sore throat.
It is mostly an old wives’ tale that you should take your kids to the doctor immediately if they have a fever over 100 degrees. It is difficult for a mom to resist the urge to call the doctor immediately when they see a high number like 101 or 102 degrees on the thermometer. However, most parents tend to overreact when their children have a fever, evidenced by the fact that fever is the chief complete in almost 30 percent of acute problem doctor visits for children. Before you decide to take an immediate trip to the doctor, stop to consider if it is really necessary.
Any baby less than 6 months in age should get immediate treatment for a fever that is over 100 degrees. However, low-grade fevers in healthy children do not always require immediate medical attention. Fever is the body’s response to fight off infection, so it is not always something to worry about. If the temperature is over 103 or 104 degrees, you should definitely call a doctor. But with a low-grade fever, you can generally wait it out a bit to see if the fever resolves on its own. Try giving your child a fever reducer or pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help keep the fever down. If your child’s fever presents with other serious symptoms, you may want to visit the doctor to see if it is a more serious problem like strep throat.
Diarrhea is a much more common problem in children than adults, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should take your child to the doctor. Unless your child becomes severely dehydrated, diarrhea is a problem that you can handle at home. When your child is sick, it is important to make sure that they are getting plenty of fluids, and realize that water may not be good enough. Children may need electrolyte replacement drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade to bring up their sodium and potassium levels in order to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. As long as your child is not getting too dehydrated and starts to see some improvement in their symptoms after a few days, you should not run to the doctor immediately for diarrhea.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.