6 Reasons to Call Your Child's Doctor

How do you know when a child’s doctor needs to be contacted?

“If the child is having what seems like a normal kids’ illness, usually it’s not something you need to worry about,” says infection control specialist Jeffrey Stark, M.D.

The following symptoms, however, merit immediate attention:

Respiratory distress – Younger children might not express this verbally, but you might noticewhen to call the doctor rapid breathing, the skin between the child’s ribs pulling in, or the nostrils flaring.

Fever – Any fever in a child under 2 months old, a fever that exceeds 102º Fahrenheit in older kids, or any fever you can’t bring down is reason to call the doctor.

Severe vomiting or diarrhea – This could lead to dehydration, which in extreme cases means permanent health damage or death.

Sudden loss of appetite – This is especially important in infants, where lack of feeding also means lack of hydration.

Brief recovery, followed by sudden relapse – This could mean a bacterial infection has followed the viral infection, and your child may need antibiotic treatment.

Lethargy or irritability – Watch for anything that doesn’t seem “right.”

“Don’t forget your common sense,” advises pediatric infectious disease specialist Danielle Zerr, M.D. “If your child looks sick and you’re worried, call the doctor.”

Christina Elston writes about child and family health issues and is a regular contributor to United Parenting Publications.