Sometimes, the life of a parent seems like a continuous stream of doctor visits. However, the evolving trend of urgent care services has taken over some of the roles formerly filled by doctors. Urgent care centers were originally conceived of as a place to receive medical treatment for conditions that did not meet the urgency of the emergency room but too urgent to wait days or weeks for a doctor’s appointment. However, urgent care clinics have now evolved, offering many preventative services in addition to urgent care services.
These services are ideal for many situations in which your child requires quick treatment with a short wait. Here are three reasons you may visit an urgent care center with your child:
One of the most urgent symptoms a child can experience is a high fever. Fever occurs when the body deliberately raises its temperature in an attempt to kill off microbial invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and internal parasites. While fever is a natural immune response, a high fever is cause for visiting a doctor for a few reasons:
- High fever can have serious effects in children, including dehydration, seizure, and brain damage.
- High fever can be caused by potentially life-threatening medical conditions such as infection, heat exhaustion, an autoimmune disorder, some cancers, and allergic reaction.
- High fever is a symptom of highly contagious diseases, such as strep throat, chicken pox, measles, and tuberculosis.
Not all fevers require medical attention. For example, a fever that is low (less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit in toddlers and less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in infants) and lasts less than 24 hours, probably will not require a visit the doctor unless there are other troubling symptoms.
Conversely, if your child appears weak and listless, confused, or dehydrated, vomits, or experiences a headache or stomachache, it may be time to call a doctor. Similarly, if the fever is resistant to fever reducers or lingers more than a day or two, your child may need to see a doctor.
Ear infections are very common in children. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), ear infections are the most common reason parents take their children to see a doctor. In fact, according to the NIH, five out of every six American children will have at least one ear infection before age three.
Children are more prone to ear infections because they catch more colds than adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American children miss over 20 million school days each year because of the common cold.
One of the primary symptoms of colds is upper respiratory system congestion. When an adult has plugged ears, the mucus drains through the Eustachian tube that connects the ears to the throat. Children, however, very narrow Eustachian tubes that clog easily. As a result, mucus collects in the middle ear and provides a place for bacteria and viruses to grow, leading to infection.
While many ear infections clear up on their own when the child recovers from the source of the congestion, some may require antibiotics to treat. Moreover, serious infections can lead to damage to ears or even deafness.
Children are active. While they have some advantages when it comes to falls and other accidents, such as more flexible bones, children often injure themselves through carelessness, lack of strength or coordination, or rough play with other children.
Not all injuries require medical attention. However, some injuries may benefit from a visit to urgent care:
- Cuts that are deep enough or long enough that you can see muscle, bone, or other tissue might need stitches. Cuts that are jagged, made with a rusty or dirty object, or have debris inside them might need cleaning and a Tetanus shot.
- Broken bones and dislocated joints.
- Head injuries with confusion, vomiting, dilated pupils, or loss of consciousness.
- Burns that cover a large area, include charred skin, or appear infected may require medical attention. Similarly, burns from hot oil, chemicals, or electricity should be examined by a doctor.
These are just a few examples of medical conditions that might land you in urgent care with your child. Of course, if your child has any medical emergency, you should seek immediate medical attention in an emergency room.