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    When to Call the Pediatrician

    By Kimberly Goad
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

    If you're a parent, you've probably wrestled with the question more than once when your kid got sick: Should I call the doc? Whether your little one has a fever, cough, or tummy ache, the moment always arrives when you wonder if it's time to get advice from a pro.

    Rachel Bolton of Nashville, TN, got a lesson on when to make "the call" when she was 9 months into her new job -- being a first-time mom. She checked on her son before turning in for the night and knew right away something wasn't right.

    "He was sound asleep, but he was burning up," she says. "We took his temperature and it was 103 degrees -- the highest it had ever been."

    Her first instinct was to call her pediatrician, but it was 11 p.m. Did she dare?

    In a word: yes. Whether it's for medicines, minor illnesses, injuries, even parenting advice, you should always feel free to call your pediatrician's office.

    "There's all kinds of wonderful information -- both in books and online," says Robert Mendelson, MD, a pediatrician in Portland, OR, and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "But when the time comes and you're trying to decide, 'Is my child sick enough to call the pediatrician for this information or that information?' The answer is, always, yes you should."

    Pay attention to these key symptoms when you're trying to decide if you should pick up the phone and get your pediatrician's input.

    Fever

    Maybe the only thing more common than a fever in a kid is "fever phobia" in a parent. The tendency to freak out when your child's temperature spikes is normal, but it's important to remember that a fever isn't necessarily bad.

    "Fever is an ally, not an enemy," Mendelson says. "When a child gets an infection -- and the majority of infections in children are from viruses for which there is really no specific treatment in most cases -- his body temperature goes up so that it can more effectively fight the viral infection. That's a good thing."

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