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

A heavy snowfall in the Chilcotin overnight, as seen here at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake on Friday, Nov. 27, has resulted in several downed power lines and the closure of some of Highway 20. (Graham West photo)
Heavy snowfall, downed power lines, Highway 20 closed Bella Coola to Anahim Lake

A travel advisory is in effect between Tatla Lake and Anahim Lake

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. Submitted photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Newly elected Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson participated in a virtual oath ceremony with the BC Liberal Caucus on Friday, Nov. 27. Here he poses for a photograph with Kate Ryan-Lloyd, clerk of the legislature. (Screen image taken of YouTube live stream)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA participates in BC Liberal Caucus virtual oath ceremony

First-time MLA Lorne Doerkson will represent the region

Snow continues to fall near Anahim Lake as shown here on the DriveBC webcam Friday, Nov. 27. (DriveBC image)
Snowfall warning for Chilcotin expected to last until noon Friday

Drive BC is warning of black ice between Tatla Lake and Alexis Creek

Patrons exercise at Re4rm Fitness prior to last week’s new, provincial COVID-19 regulations. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake fitness centres adapt amid new COVID-19 regulations

Gymnastics, dance studios, martial arts, yoga, pilates, strength and conditioning impacted

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
Two Fraser Valley churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

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

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Most Read