Back to School Season: When to Seek Medical Care for Infections & Viruses

The back-to-school season is a time of joy for children and parents alike. It’s a time to get back into a routine, meet new friends, and learn new things. But with so many kids in close quarters, infections and viruses can spread like wildfire. In this blog post, we will discuss when to seek medical care for your child during the back-to-school season.

Urgent Care

Urgent care is a type of walk-in clinic that provides medical treatment for minor injuries and illnesses. While urgent care centers are not equipped to handle life-threatening emergencies, they can provide quick and convenient care for a wide range of issues. So when should you take your child to urgent care? Generally speaking, any condition that is not life-threatening but cannot wait for a regular doctor’s appointment can be treated at an urgent care center. This includes fevers, ear infections, minor cuts and scrapes, and sprains. In addition, many urgent care centers offer on-site x-rays and laboratory testing, which can be helpful for diagnosing respiratory infections and other common childhood illnesses. If you are ever unsure whether or not a condition warrants a trip to the emergency room or urgent care, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek professional medical help.

If your child is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it is time to seek medical care:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Croup
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Flu
  • Minor burns
  • Minor injuries from falls or sports
  • Pink eye
  • Rashes
  • Simple lacerations
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin infections
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Emergency Care

Most parents have been there before- you’re child is sick or injured, and you’re not sure whether to head to the emergency room or wait it out at home. It can be a tough call to make, but there are some general guidelines that can help. If your child is having difficulty breathing, is unresponsive, or is bleeding heavily, then it’s time to head to the ER. Other signs that warrant a trip to the hospital include a seizure, serious burn, or sudden onset of paralysis. In general, if you are worried that your child’s condition could be life-threatening, it’s better to err on the side of caution and go to the ER. The doctors and nurses there will be able to assess your child’s condition and provide the necessary care.


Signs you should take your child to the emergency department:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe allergic reaction (shortness of breath, lip/oral swelling, persistent vomiting, altered mental status)
  • High fever with headache and stiff neck
  • Suddenly hard to wake up
  • Sudden loss of sight, speech or movement
  • Broken bone pushing through the skin
  • Body part near an injured bone that is numb, tingling, weak, cold or pale
  • Heavy bleeding or deep wound
  • Serious burn
  • Coughing or throwing up blood
  • Fast heartbeat that doesn’t slow down
  • Vomiting followed by dry mouth, not crying tears, no urination in more than eight hours or acting very sleepy/“out of it”

With every back to school season comes increased exposure to new viruses and infections for your child. If your child is ill and you are unsure whether or not the symptoms warrant a trip to the doctor, urgent care, or emergency department give us a call. We would be happy to help you make the best decision for your child’s health and well-being. For a list of all the urgent and pediatric services we offer visit our website here.