Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever and is often a symptom seen when a child is suffering from common ailments, like a cold or flu. (Pixabay photo)

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever and is often a symptom seen when a child is suffering from common ailments, like a cold or flu. (Pixabay photo)

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

One of a parent’s biggest worries is when their child comes down with a fever, but B.C.’s largest health authority is offering up some tips on when a sick child should – and shouldn’t – be taken to the emergency room.

According to a review done by Fraser Health, there are roughly 120,000 visits each year to pediatric emergency departments across the region. But while the number one reason was due to a child having a fever, Dr. Neil Barclay says that only a tiny percentage were serious enough for the child to be admitted.

“The vast majority of them are seen and then sent right back home,” Barclay told Black Press Media.

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever and is often a symptom seen when a child is suffering from common ailments, like a cold or flu.

But that doesn’t stop parents from rushing to the hospital in fear of the worst when their child’s temperature spikes – a worry known to doctors as “fever phobia.”

“Some families feel that as soon as their child gets a fever they need to go to the emergency department, whereas we know if your child is well looking we can give it two or three days of time to see how they’re doing,” Barclay said.

Crowded emergency rooms are synonymous with the colder months, also known as flu season, and many parents are left waiting hours only to see a doctor for a few minutes. Instead, Barclay is encouraging parents to first try other alternatives before heading to the hospital.

READ MORE: Almost 90% of Canadian workers admit going to work sick: survey

“One of the best is Healthlink BC, and you can access that either by website or by calling 811,” Barclay said. “What it does is it puts you in touch with a nurse and can give you advice on how to manage your child’s fever at home and when to go to the emergency department.”

Barclay also recommended visiting one of the province’s new primary care centres, located in Surrey, Burnaby and Maple Ridge, which can help treat any child over the age of one. Centres have also been set up in Kelowna, Quesnel, Nanaimo, Vernon and Victoria.

There are instances that do warrant a trip to the hospital, Barclay added.

“Any child under the age of three months with a temperature above 38 C should be taken to an emergency department,” he said. “Other times are if your child has had a fever for more than three days and you don’t know why or if at any point they look sick – which means they are lethargic, having trouble breathing or are not drinking fluids.”

If a child has pre-existing conditions or suffers from other illnesses they should also be taken to the hospital.

Barclay, a father himself, admitted that he understands the anxiousness that strikes when a child is sick and if a parent isn’t sure to err on the side of caution. But Barclay also pointed out that vaccinations have minimized the chances of older children getting meningitis or pneumonia has dropped significantly.

“By far the odds are if your child has a fever they don’t need antibiotics and will get better on their own.”

ALSO READ: Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The ski hill is clearly marked as a no snowmobiling zone, but that hasn’t deterred sledders from ruining it for the second time this season (Patrick Gunderson photo)
Tweedsmuir Ski Hill wrecked by sledders for second time this season

The Club is respectfully requesting snowmobilers stay off the ski hill

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 cases climb to 52 as first vaccinations to begin Jan. 19

VCH has indicated vaccines will be available for off-reserve elders, but has not provided specifics

NES hosts grades 5 - 7 in Hagensborg (file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Nusatsum Elementary School

The exposure was in grade 5 and took place Jan. 6, 2021

Jeffery Snow has been our community paramedic for the past three years and has worked as a paramedic for over three decades. He is now certified to offer COVID-19 testing to clients (Caitlin Thompson photo)
Bella Coola’s community paramedic can now test people for COVID-19

Jeffery Snow became certified to offer COVID-19 testing on Jan. 13, 2021

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7 (file photo)
COVID-19 cases climb to 25 in Bella Coola

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Most Read