The following tips are for children
6 months or older–for infants under 6 months, parents are advised to contact their
primary care provider (PCP) immediately.
What can you do at home? You may treat your child at home if their symptoms are mild, such as, mild
cough, fever less than 101˚, nasal drainage, mild sore throat, few episodes
of vomiting or diarrhea (without abdominal pain or signs of bleeding)
if they’re still drinking, eating and playing fairly normally. Your
child will likely have less energy and a decrease in appetite with most
viral illnesses, including the common cold. Young children average 6-7
colds per year, with some (especially those in daycare) having up to 12
colds each year.
Over the Counter (OTC) medications can you use to treat your children?
OTC medications such as Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, saline nasal spray, cold/cough
medications and antihistamines such as Benadryl or Zyrtec may be used
as directed. You should also encourage increased fluid intake when your
child is sick – even if they are vomiting. Have them sip small amounts
of liquid every few minutes to help prevent dehydration.
When should you call or visit your child’s PCP? If symptoms are getting worse – wheezing or barking sounds accompany
cough, more frequent vomiting, diarrhea (with or without abdominal pain),
unable to eat/drink, fever greater than 101˚, sore throat with swollen
lymph nodes, decreased urination, no tears when crying, dry mouth, developing
rash, or when you have treated their symptoms for more than 5-7 days without
When should a child’s illness be considered an emergency? If your child is having difficulty breathing, you are unable to wake your
child, they experience severe abdominal pain (guarding their abdomen,
not wanting to move/walk), if they have not urinated in 12 hours, or if
you see black or bloody stools and/or vomit it’s time to seek immediate
medical care. Learn more about where to go when your child is sick on
Urgent Care vs ER vs Primary Care.
Moriah Specht, a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-C) at
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Bethlehem adds, “Any time you have a question about whether you need to visit
your provider, do not hesitate to call the practice or their after-hours
number to get their opinion on bringing the child in.” Many of the
providers with Catawba Valley Family Medicine see both children and adults,
and often same-day appointments are available. For help selecting a primary
care practice or provider, call our referral line at 828.326.2876 or visit
Catawba Valley Medical Group’s online practice locator.
This article offers general information about which course of action parents
may pursue during a child’s illness. It’s extremely important
not to ignore a health emergency. If a situation seems life-threatening,
call 911 right away.