The emergency room seems like a convenient place to go if you get sick after your primary care doctor's hours. You probably see people post on social media, asking for tips about taking care of their sick children. Many of the comments are often telling the parent to take their child to the emergency room. It seems most people don't understand what an emergency entails. Here are some illnesses and symptoms that you shouldn't take your child to the emergency room for.
While most adults will put off going to the doctor as long as possible, they tend to run their children to the ER as soon as they spike a fever. There are a lot of misconceptions about fevers. Many people will tell you that a fever of 104 or higher is an emergency. Others will say 105. The truth is, a fever is rarely an emergency.
If you have a baby less than three months old with a temperature of more than 100.4, you should call a doctor or the emergency department to ask for advice since babies don't have a fully-developed immune system. However, jumping the gun and going straight to the hospital could just subject your baby to more illnesses.
Children don't need to go to the ER for a fever unless the fever is not responding to medication, or they have symptoms that suggest something far more serious is going on. These symptoms include:
- Stiff neck
- Significant diarrhea and vomiting
- Other unusual and worrisome symptoms
If your child is between six months and two years old, he or she should see a pediatrician if the fever lasts longer than 24 hours, and children older than two should see one if the fever lasts longer than three days. However, fevers are a sign that the immune system is working properly. Therefore, the fever alone isn't a cause for emergency care.
Ear infections are painful. It makes sense to want to be relieved of pain as quickly as possible. However, running your kid to the ER as soon as you realize an ear hurts isn't the answer. In fact, 60% of ear infections are viral; therefore, they don't require medication. Many doctors will prescribe antibiotics to make sure the infection goes away, which can cause antibiotic resistance from overuse. It's better to avoid antibiotics when you can. If an ear infection is viral, symptoms should begin to decrease in 24 to 48 hours. If they don't, you should make your child an appointment with a pediatrician.
Toothaches are awful. No one is going to deny that. It's difficult to eat, sleep, and go about daily life when your jaw is throbbing. Unfortunately, medical doctors can't do anything for you. If your ER has a dentist on call then the ER would make sense for you, but most of them don't. Most will give you a small bottle of pain medicine and tell you to call your dentist in the morning. However, if you have more than just a toothache, such as uncontrolled bleeding or puss coming from your gums, you should go to the ER to get it checked out. Your best bet is to find an emergency dentist near you if you can't wait.
The flu is a common reason why people go to the ER. The flu is a viral infection, and you have to wait for it to pass. If you have the flu, the ER will tell you to take some over-the-counter medication and get plenty of rest. Going to the ER will not only waste your time, but it will open you up to other illnesses from people who are in the waiting room. If you have a fever and body aches, give yourself a few days before seeking medical attention.
The ER is meant to treat life-threatening conditions. Unless you are experiencing complications such as severe dehydration, excessive bleeding, chest pain, and constant dizziness, the ER isn't necessary. Get some rest and make an appointment with your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic like Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc. the following day.