During the last few weeks at Dayton Children’s we have been pretty busy at both our urgent care and emergency department. As the medical director of our urgent care in Springboro, I have been seeing a lot of patients come in with the flu or flu-like symptoms. It can be confusing as a parent to know when to take your child to their primary care physician, to urgent care or to the emergency department. I thought during this busy time of year I would take a few moments to share with you some tips on how to make that decision!
Call 911 If…
- Your child has severe difficulty breathing (This includes if they are struggling for each breath, making grunting noises with each breath or are unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing.)
- Your child’s lips or face begin to turn blue when they are not coughing
If it is not an emergency, I encourage you to always call your primary care physician first. They know your child’s medical history and can help you make the best decision for your child. Below are some of the criteria they will use in helping you to know when to take your child to the emergency department or urgent care.
When to visit the emergency room
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Difficulty breathing (under 1 year old) not relieved by cleaning the nose
- Difficulty breathing (over 1 year old) present when not coughing
- Lips or face are turning blue while coughing
- Stridor (harsh sound breathing in) occurs
- Ribs are pulling in with each breath (retractions)
- Chest pain and can’t take a deep breath
- Dehydration suspected (no urine in more than 12 hours and very dry mouth, no tears, ill-appearing, etc.)
- Weak immune system (sickle cell disease, HIV, chemotherapy, organ transplant, chronic steroids, etc.)
- Severe high-risk patient such as chronic lung disease (exception: mild asthma), heart disease, bedridden, etc.
- Under age 12 weeks with fever above 100.4° F (38.0° C) rectally (Caution: Do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen)
- Fever over 104° F (40° C) and has not improved two hours after fever medicine
- When recommended by your child’s physician
When to visit urgent care
If your doctor’s office is not open and your child has any of the following symptoms:
- Continuous (nonstop) coughing
- Age under 3 months old with any cough
- Earache, ear discharge, possible ear infection
- Sinus pain (not just congestion)
- Fever present for more than three days
- Fever returns after gone for more than 24 hours
Remember, kids who are sick should stay home from school and childcare until they are without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. Some might need to stay home longer, depending on how they feel. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.
Dr. King is the medical director of urgent care at Dayton Children’s and the mother of two kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. King blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health.