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When (and When Not) to Call Your Pediatrician

Know Your Baby

Whoever is in charge of your child should know your baby, and some other important basic facts:

  • What is the baby's age?
  • What is the baby's current weight?
  • What is the medical history of this particular child?
  • Do you have insurance coverage?
  • Which hospitals/emergency rooms does your insurance cover?
  • Where are these facilities located?
  • Important Phone Numbers. [Like Poison-Control, your Pharmacy, and 9-1-1.]

Observe Your Child

Since I understand that it can be difficult to know which symptoms are important enough to warrant an immediate call to your doctor's office; This is a rough guide that may help you determine when to seek professional medical help. This list is not comprehensive, and if in doubt, you should always err on the side of safety, and get your child to a doctor.

Some criterion for determining when a child should be taken to the doctor are the following factors:

  • Is there a pattern? Does the pattern seem normal to you? Is the problem bothering you? or the child?
  • Is the problem persistent? Does it seem that the problem won't go away?
  • Is the ailment progressing? Are the symptoms getting worse? Are they becoming more frequent? Is the illness causing loss of appetite, diarrhea, or dehydration? If so, contact a physician immediately.

Trust Your Instincts

There is no magic way to know if a child is sick enough to be taken to the doctor. The key is to know your child and how he or she behaves when sick and when normal.

You should know your child better than anyone else. If you feel something is wrong, call the doctor. If you think it's an emergency, go to the emergency room. Although we have priveliges in most area hospitals, we do not endorse any particular one.

Reasons to Call Your Doctor

  • Difficulty breathing or laborful respiration, such as gagging, croup, persistent cough, or wheezing.
  • A fever that is lasting more than 48 hours.
  • A fever is defined as an axillary temperature greater than 100.4 F degrees OR greater than 99.5 F degrees for a child under 2 months of age.
  • Persistent abdominal pain.
  • Earache.
  • Persistent vomiting, nausea, diarrhea or signs of dehydration.
  • Refusal to eat and drink.
  • Stiff neck where the child cannot bend the neck forward to the chest.
  • Pain when urinating, or blood in urine.
  • Other Non-Emergency physical symptoms.