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What's Your Cold and Flu IQ?

Pediatric health experts answer parents' top 10 questions about sneezy, sniffly cold-weather maladies.

Cold and Flu: Should Your Child See a Doctor?

The answer is yes if your kid has any of the following symptoms.

High fever. A fever of 101 degrees or higher lasting more than a couple of days warrants a call to the doctor. A baby younger than 6 months with a fever of 100.4 or higher should see a doctor. An unimmunized child who has a fever needs to be checked right away as well.

Breathing problems. Difficulty breathing or working hard to breathe -- at any age, not just in childhood -- is "a medical emergency more than anything else," says Michael J. Smith, MD. Call your doctor right away.

Dehydration. Inability to keep fluids down or infrequent urination could signal dehydration. Make sure your child is drinking water or juice mixed with water. Left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to shock.

Swallowing problems or wheezing (including stridor, a harsh, raspy sound when inhaling). Both are reasons to go to your doctor, says Smith.

Unusual behavior. If your child is acting differently than normal, pay attention. "Every child has their usual trajectory when they are sick," says Rotbart. "Some kids are more feverish, and some are more coughing and sneezing kids. But when your child is not following the pattern that you're accustomed to, that's the time to go to the pediatrician."

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Reviewed on November 30, 2011

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