When Should I Call the Doctor? - Rush City,MN

Updated on April 27, 2011
V.W. asks from Chisago City, MN
21 answers

My 6 month old son is sick. It came on suddenly today, and we aren't quite sure who gave it to him (We have it narrowed down to 2 toddlers he has recently been around).

Anyways, he is really congested (You can hear it when he breathes). He has been coughing all day. His appetite is horrible (He normally takes 7oz every 3 hours. Today he had 3oz at 10, 4oz at 4, 4 oz at 8, and 5oz at 11). His temp is 99.2. He is more irritable than normal, and has pretty much been sleeping a majority of the day.

He is my only child and this is the first time he has been sick, so I'm sort of a wreck right now. My mom keeps telling me that I should just wait it out till morning and if he is still like this then I can call the doctor.

I'm just not sure what to do. I don't want to call the nurse hot line because around here they have a reputation of telling you to go in to the ER for everything (They run off a script... And every time I have gone into the ER because they told me to (3x), the doctor rolled his/her eyes because there was absolutely no reason for me to be there).

Should I just wait it out till morning? Call the nurse hot line and risk them having me bring him in for nothing?

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So What Happened?

So at around 4am he got a temp of 101. I called the nurse hot line and they told me to wait till the clinic opened and make a same day appointment. Doctor said everything was fine and to keep an eye on his breathing.

Now the question is... Will I get sleep tonight?

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answers from Minneapolis on

I've been through this many times with my own son (he's now 4). The most important thing right now is to count his respiraiton per minute, especially if he has been coughing a lot, if you are thinking you need to take him in. If he is breathing rapidly, it means he is having a hard time breathing. Rapid breathe also comes from high fevers but it doesn't sound lik ehe has a high fever. 99.2 is not a fever. I learned about counting breathes after calling my own ped in the middle of the night. Google 'Pediatric Respiratory Rates' or go by this: Infant up to 1 year 30-60 breaths per minute. Anything higher than 60 breathes per min. and take him in ASAP.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

My general rule is the fever....if it's high then we go to ER, if not, then we wait till the doctor.

He's sleeping to fight off whatever he has, that's good. Unless his fever spikes, I'd wait till tomorrow.

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answers from Jacksonville on

His fever is not high, he's eating (smaller amts, but still eating), and he is sleeping. As long as he is not lethargic, the fever doesn't get ridiculously high, he completely stops eating, or starts with some other more severe symptoms....I would wait until morning to take him in to be seen. It is most likely a virus that has to run its course. You should ALWAYS be able to reach a Dr. from your pediatrician's office on call and they are used to calls in the middle of the night from worried 1st time mommies, if you feel you need some medical reassurance. I've never heard of a nurse hotline that tells people to go to the ER for minor issues.....sounds strange and ridiculous of them.....That's why I would call the dr. who is on call for any future worries, but this seems quite normal for a cold or other similar virus......Take care.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I agree with your Mom on this one, I'd wait until morning. He doesn't have a high fever and if he doesn't feel well a poor appetite is normal. If you have a humidifier put that in his room, if not you can go in the bathroom with him with the door closed and hot shower on for the steam to help a bit with congestion. Good luck, it's no fun when our little ones are sick. :(

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answers from Houston on

I would wait to bring him in. His fever isn't that high and odds are this might not even be something he caught from another child.

Here is a good list of guidelines of when to call the Dr:

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answers from Dallas on

It sounds like he may just have a cold. Wait it out, you probably don't even need to take him to the dr. I know when it's your first baby it can be very scary! Been there! But with colds the dr will tell you to put a cool mist humidfier in his room, use baby saline solution to spray in his nose before suctioning it, elevate the part of the mattress where his head sleeps. When they lay flat the congestion will get worse and they will wake up more so you can put a quilt under one side of his mattress to elevate it or if he enjoys sleeping in a boucer chair or swing try that while he is congested. You can buy baby vapor rub by vicks and put on his chest and back. If he has a cough you can put on the soles of his feet and put cotton socks on him during the night. This will help him sleep peacefully. If he starts running fever call your dr and see how much motrin and tylenol you should give him. Honestly at his age they will not do much for a cold. I can't tell you how many times I took my son in to the dr due to a cold and they just told me to do these things and sent me on my way. He isn't eating much bc of the congestion but it's ok. He won't starve himself, I promise! As soon as he gets better he will be back to normal. Don't stress too much!

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answers from Los Angeles on

The fever isnt high, I wouldnt go to the ER. I would give him some baby advil. (Tylenol is now believed to be connected to asthma in babies) Make sure you dont overdress him (I once believed in bundling the feverish baby, thanks to my mom, oops- not good) Also, elevate the crib mattress a but, it helps with congestion, and also with oxygen saturation if he's having trouble breathing.
All moms get anxious with a sick baby, be it your first, or 3rd... Its scary, because they are so small & fragile.
If the Doctor is rolling his eyes, I say whatever, new moms always go in with minor illnesses etc, because how are you supposed to know its not something more?? If YOU think or feel you want him checked, you should just go.

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answers from Los Angeles on

As long as he is breathing fine and does not have a high fever, you can wait till the morning. Anytime they are congested (especially when you can hear it) I would get it checked out. My baby picked up RSV from my son (we did not know he had RSV, they don't test for it when you are older). She got very sick and ended up in the hospital.

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answers from San Francisco on

When in doubt -- GO TO THE ER!




answers from Dubuque on

There is really no reason to wait other than your fear of looking stupid. Forget about that and take him to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician is not going to give him something unless he needs it and will help you throughout the course of the illness. Your son is only 6 months old. It can't hurt to take him.



answers from Madison on

Take a deep breath.... it is hard when your first gets their first cold, but at 6 months, although he will be miserable for a couple days, if it is only a cold, he will be okay :) Give him some motrin and try a warm bath and/or a steamy bathrooms before feedings and before bedtime. Put a humidifier in his bedroom and crank it up before bedtime; you can try feeding him in a humidified environment too. Just calm yourself and resign yourself to a few nights with less sleep than you're used to. As long as he doesn't have trouble breathing, doesn't appear to have an ear infection, and his fever responds to motrin or tylenol and doesn't last more than several days, I think he will be just fine.



answers from Los Angeles on

I love this site for questions like this:

Hope your little one feels better soon


answers from Hartford on

Very low grade temperature of only 99*F, some congestion, a somewhat decreased appetite, and increased sleeping. It sounds like a mild to moderate cold. Six months is old enough for Infant Tylenol Cold medicine, but it makes some children hyper rather than sleepy so that's a risk you need to be aware of. Otherwise you have no need to be panicking or "a wreck." It's tough when our kids aren't feeling well, but we handle it especially when we figure out that it's not a big deal.

So you don't need to call the nurse hotline or go to the emergency room. You might want to call the pediatrician for the proper dosage based on your son's weight if you decide to give him Tylenol Cold infant drops.



answers from Houston on

if he is really congested run a humidifier and use vicks on his chest. Don't worry to much about the not eating. Most people do that when they are sick. This is normal by my standards I don't sweat it. I would personally wait 48 hrs before worrying to much but keep an eye on his ears. Wait for him to get real fussy for not apperant reason or fiddle with his ears or get a fever. If any of these 3 symptoms show up get him to the doctor to get his ears checked.



answers from Minneapolis on

Sounds like a cold, not ER worthy. Try Vicks on the soles of his feet covered with socks, a cool mist humidifier over his bed, a bulb to suction his nose ,and some infant tylenol. You will both get through this!



answers from Des Moines on

A more helpful option than the nurse hotline is your pediatrician's on call person. Call the doctors office number, if you get an automated message LISTEN to it, one of the options will be for the on call nurse or Doctor. When you get the answering service they'll get some information (usually your name, ph #, child's name and DOB, and a BRIEF description of the problem) and then either connect you or page the on call person. If they page and you don't hear in 20 minutes CALL BACK, if the message goes out over a pager the answering service won't know you didn't get a call back, and if there's a doctor with a dead pager battery they need to know



answers from Boston on

Is he still making wet diapers? If he's not he's getting dehydrated and needs to be seen. It's been 13 hrs since your post so hopefully you have gotton through to the pedi.



answers from Appleton on

Anytime I have called in to the doctor's office for a cough, they seem to tell me to wait until he's been coughing for a couple weeks before bringing him in. Unless you are hearing a raspyness (not sure if that's a word or even spelled right) in his lungs, I would say it's just a cold and there's not much you can do for that.
Some suggestions they have given me is to have a vaporizer by his bed and to raise the end of the bed that he sleeps on to help him sleep.
Hope this helps.


answers from Kansas City on

i think it's a little early to panic. although i understand your worries being the first time you've dealt with this. the key is, his temperature is not high, and he's not miserable. if he was crying all the time and won't stop, hasn't eaten at all, or had a high fever, then things would be different. they have infant tylenol drops that might help him feel a little better, but so far i would say this isn't anything to rush to the ER with. keep us posted - things can change!

and PS i KNOW how you feel about calling and their stock answer being "bring them in". my dr.s office is the same way. i eventually quit calling. grr.



answers from Minneapolis on

The temp seems fine. The only time you would need an ER is if the temp is really elevated (around 102+) He may be congested but as long as he isn't having trouble breathing (in his lungs) you just need to make him feel comfortable. Elevate the head of his matress by putting towels underneath it, use a humidifier and use some saline nose drops and a syringe to clean his nose out (Try a Nosefrida, I swear by it!) Warm baths will help too. Let him nap, it will help him fight teh cold and as long as he is still having wet diapers, don't worry about the diminished appetite. If it continues, take to the doc after a few days just to have him checked out. Chances are it is just a bug and will run its course (which is a little longer for little ones than adults). And you will drive yourself crazy trying tio figure out wher eit came from. He could have gotten it just about anywhere. A little cold will only help him build up his immune system. If he doesn't do it now, you'll have to worry about it when he starts school.



answers from Minneapolis on

I know it's so hard when the babies get sick, but it really sounds like he's got a slight cold. Or possibly even teething. I usually don't take my kids to the doc for a fever unless it's been more than 2 days over 100. Low fevers like 99 and 100 are so often associated with teething that I just have learned my lesson. If your son wants to sleep more, let him. If he wants to eat less, let him. He will eat when he feels better again. Sometimes when they're teething, it hurts to drink from the bottle. I know it's tough to watch him suffer, but I'm afraid a doctor is going to tell you it's a cold, virus, or teething.

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