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

Tom Shypitka, pictured with his campaign team. on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. Trevor Crawley photo
Shypitka wins second term; BC NDP cruise to majority

“Election Days,” rather than “Election Day,” may be the more accurate term… Continue reading

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

BC ELECTION
Voting day: Elk Valley braves the cold to vote for next MLA

Today is the last chance for voters to have their say

Green candidate for Kootenay East, Kerri Wall (centre) voted in Fernie on Oct. 24 along with her son and his girlfriend. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
With polls closed, BC Greens candidate Kerri Wall reflects on the campaign that was

Wall said she was settling in for a long wait until full results were known, and wished the BC Liberal and BC NDP candidates good luck

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

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

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read