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

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Jacob Gardner (Fort St. John, B.C.) marking the highest score of the night of 84.5 on Pozobon Bucking Bulls’ 94 Jason’s Dream. This photo originally appeared in the Jan. 14, 2016, issue of the Times.
10 YEARS AGO: Twenty-seven brave souls take the plunge

40 YEARS AGO: Although mining concerns are not known to be among… Continue reading

(Unsplash photo)
“Are you printing the truth yet?”

Right from my first days in the editor’s chair, I have had a handful of locals tell me they know the secrets to solving COVID-19 — but fail to provide support.

File photo
Man tells RCMP he’s being chased, is later arrested

RCMP looking for witnesses of head-on collision Jan. 10

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

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: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read