Your child is miserable. He has been up all night, complaining of a stomach ache, a headache, or even vomiting. He is flushed or pale, sweating and complaining of being alternately hot and cold. He can’t keep anything down. Should he call for an appointment? Knowing when your child needs to visit a physician for minor colds, viruses or infections is not always obvious. Viruses, unlike infections, do not respond to antibiotics and need to run their course. It can likewise be difficult to tell a cold from the flu. You don’t want your child to suffer needlessly, but then again, if you can save that co-pay, of course you would like to.
Difficulty in breathing, especially when coupled with chest pain, requires a doctor’s visit. This could be pneu’monia and if so, you will need antibiotics to clear up the fluid in your lungs. Children with asthma should also see their physicians with labored breathing or wheezing.
If the fever does not respond to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or if it goes away only to recur, you will need to make that phone call. A fever of over 104 degrees can be dangerous. Low grade fevers of up to 100.4 degrees, on the other hand, can be beneficial in fighting off infections and other illnesses and should not be treated.
A sore throat, especially when accompanied by swollen glands or painful swallowing, should usually be seen by a doctor. This could be an infection or even strep throat and it is best to be sure when dealing with this type of illness.
Vomiting and diarrhea can be treated at home, unless accompanied by blood or dehydration. If your child cannot keep liquids down he could dehydrate easily and may need to receive fluids intravenously. Vomiting for more than 24 hours can also be a sign of a serious illness and your doctor will probably ask you to come in.