As a parent, you tend to err on the side of caution when your child isn’t feeling well. So what is your protocol if your child develops a fever? Do you make an appointment with your pediatrician, head to an urgent care center or go straight to the nearest emergency room? You know your child best, but when it comes to a fever, it helps to have some guidelines of where to go when your child’s temperature is on the rise.
What is a Fever?
A fever is your body’s response to an infection and germs, and is a good indicator that something is not right. When your body’s temperature goes beyond normal – which usually is 98.6 oF – most people think they have a fever. But because our temperatures vary throughout the day depending on factors such as age, activity level, or being out in the sun, most doctors agree that a fever is a body temperature of above 100.4 oF. This differs slightly with children, as well as what sort of thermometer you use.
When to Sweat it Out
A low-grade fever hovers between normal and about 100 oF. In children, low-grade fevers often occur after receiving an immunization or while teething. Many infants “heat up” due to being overbundled or wearing too many layers of clothes. If a child is eating, drinking and sleeping normally, there may be no cause for alarm; still a call to your pediatrician or advice nurse may be in order. In some cases, higher grade temperatures may be noted in a child. Again, use discretion, as you may want to reach out to your pediatrician or visit an urgent care center if the fever persists; it could a sign of something more serious like an ear infection or strep.
When to Seek Urgent Care
Urgent Care Centers, like EMC Express Care in North Richland Hills, Texas, offer urgent care for a number conditions that may have fever as a primary symptom, for instance, fever may present in children with colds or flu, strep throat or upper respiratory infections. Pediatricians advise seeking pediatric urgent care if the child is under three months old and has a fever of 100 oF; or if the child is older than three months and has a fever of 102 oF.
Urgent Care vs. Your Pediatrician
Most pediatricians will see a sick child on the same day, but if the books are filled or your child gets sick outside of office hours, you may be referred to an urgent care clinic. Not to worry – urgent care clinics are staffed by experienced medical professionals. In the case of EMC Express Care, Dr. Greg Gardner, who is board-certified in family practice, provides expert and compassionate care to all patients of all ages.
When to Head to the Emergency Room
While there are a number of ways to take a child’s temperature, most commonly orally, under the arm, or with a digital thermometer, the most accurate reading will come from a rectal thermometer. If your child is three months old or younger and has a rectal thermometer reading of 100.4 oF, call your doctor immediately and head to the emergency room. If your child is limp, complains of a stiff neck, won’t stop crying or has trouble breathing, head to the emergency room. Likewise, if your child is having seizures or shows a dark rash that only appeared when she started to feel ill, seek emergency medical attention.
Making the Call
You know your child best. Most of the time, letting your child rest allows the fever to resolve itself. If she is eating and drinking, is urinating regularly but is fussy, call your pediatrician or head to your local urgent care. Head to the emergency room if the high temperature is rising, or is accompanied by severe symptoms such as loss of appetite, a stiff neck, shortness of breath, or extreme lethargy. Remember – children under three have difficulty fighting off a high fever and usually require medical care for extremely high temperatures.
Pediatric Urgent Care in North Richland Hills
At EMC Express Care, we take great pride in providing urgent care services to patients of all ages. No appointment is necessary and we offer low wait times – typically within 10 minutes, meaning you get the care you need when you need it. Plus, we offer wellness and school physicals, OB/GYN care and treatment of injuries and infections. If you are need urgent care for your child or if it’s been a while since you have had a physical, call us today at (817) 503-8800, or simply walk in our North Richland Hills clinic. We are open every day from 10 am to 8 pm. You may check-in online for faster service.