When should you take your child to see a doctor?

For how long should I monitor my child’s fever at home? When should they see a doctor? These are questions that parents tend to worry about when their child is ill. This article contains answers to frequently asked questions about the illness of a child.

At Mehiläinen, children have access to the services of paediatricians, general practitioners and otorhinolaryngologists. If you need further instructions or want to book a doctor’s appointment for your child, please call +358 (0)10 414 0414 (0,0835 €/call + 0,1669 €/min) or book an appointment online. Our phone service is open every day from 24/7. Remember that help is always available in the Digital Clinic every day! The service can be accessed through the OmaMehiläinen mobile application or online Service.

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What are the most common reasons to seek medical attention for a child?

The most common reasons for booking a doctor’s appointment for a child include fever, earache, colic, stomach issues and skin disorders. Typical issues also include allergic reactions, pox, molluscum contagiosum, skin disorders and various accidents such as concussion, bruises, wounds and sprains.

Learn more:Accompanying a child to the doctor

If the only symptom is fever, should I be worried?

Fever in itself is not dangerous, but it is always a symptom of an underlying issue. If your child has high fever, it is recommended to monitor their condition and ensure that they drink lots of water (not juice or beverages). If the child experiences any additional symptoms, such as symptoms of the skin or convulsions, it is time to see a doctor. Please remember that it is common that children can experience very high fever very acutely without any additional cause for alarm. It is perfectly fine to “treat” the fever at home for some time. Recommended modes of helping the child cope with the fever include rest, monitoring, light clothing and ventilating indoors. However, the situation must be monitored and appropriate actions must be taken if the condition develops.

Learn more: Fever in children (in Finnish)

My child has a fever. What kind of symptoms require medical attention?

If the high fever persists over several days, a doctor’s appointment should be booked in order to diagnose the child’s condition. Correspondingly, if the symptoms of the common cold occur in the lungs (intense/whooping cough) or the ears or the secretion of mucus increases and it becomes thicker, a doctor’s appointment is indicated. In addition, if the symptoms of the common cold seem to persist and there are no signs of relief, you should take your child to see a doctor. It is also recommended to see a doctor if there are difficulties in breastfeeding or feeding the baby.

What symptoms can be monitored at home without the need for a doctor’s appointment and for how long?

All changes in the child’s condition can and must be monitored, but if there are sudden changes such as shortness of breath or issues with consciousness, you should contact a doctor immediately. Some changes can be explained by the growth of the child, but if the development seems to be negative rather than positive, it is important to contact a doctor as soon as possible. As long as the child remains interested in their surroundings, there is no cause for alarm.

How can I know that my baby is sick and might require medical attention?

• The baby cries more than usual
• The skin of the baby feels hot
• The baby is restless
• The colour of the baby’s skin is red
• The baby is lethargic, unresponsive to stimuli or sensitive to touch
• The baby has trouble breathing
• The baby does not want to eat
• The baby is not interested in their surroundings
• The cries of the baby due to pain are more intense than usually and they cannot be calmed or interacted with in the normal manner.

When should I become worried about my child’s headache? What are the possible causes of the headache?

If your child says that they have a headache, it is always good to inspect the situation thoroughly. Has the child fallen or hit their head? The headache can be caused by an accident or issues with the eyes or ears, for example. In the case of an accident, it is recommended to contact a doctor. It is advisable to see a doctor if the headache involves nausea, vision disorders or confusion.

Learn more: Headache in children and young people

What are the possible causes of diarrhoea and vomiting?

Diarrhoea and vomiting can be caused by a viral infection, allergic reaction to food, diet changes or a medication, for example. Antibiotics are known to cause stomach issues, for instance.

Learn more: Stomach flu in children

My child does not want to eat and they feel tired. When should I become worried?

Monitoring the child’s condition is extremely important. In some cases, the loss of appetite can be a sign of a developing disease, but it is also possible that the child has had a snack they were not allowed to eat, which is why they do not feel hungry. It is important to monitor the situation and ensure that the child drinks sufficient amounts of water. If the situation does not change by the following day, ask your child if they have any pains and if they have managed to urinate and defecate normally. However, if it seems that the child is in pain on the same day as the loss of appetite occurs, you should contact a doctor. Children should be taught to observe regular meal times already when they are little in order to avoid any unnecessary snacks.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection in children?

If the child is still in diapers, it is difficult to say whether the need to urinate is more frequent than normally, but frequent urination might be a symptom in older children. Nevertheless, the most common symptoms are fever, loss of appetite and a sensitive stomach. In some cases, urination might cause a stinging sensation, and the child is unwilling to go to the toilet and might end up crying just because they have to pee. There may not be any abnormal scents or colours in the urine. If the urine is dark or smells stronger than usually, it may be a result of dehydration, and the child needs to drink more.

Learn more: Urinary tract infections in children (in Finnish)

My child has had a rash for a few days. What types of rashes need further examination?

This depends on the location, spreading and itchiness of the rash. If the rash is not itchy, applying a skin cream and letting the skin breathe are recommended in addition to monitoring the situation for a couple of days. If the rash is itchy and/or the skin under the rash is wounded, i.e. tissue fluid or blood oozes from the wound, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. You should also see a doctor if the child has been prescribed a medication that causes a rash/redness of the skin and/or itchiness.

I have a one-year-old child who seems to have a continuous infection of some sort. What are the possible causes of this?

Possible causes of a recurring infection include:

• Weak immunity due to antibiotic treatment, for example
• Excessive cleanliness or hygiene
• Allergic reaction to a food, detergent or animal
• Narrow ear canals or other reasons related to the child’s anatomy

Learn more: Infections in children (in Finnish)

How can I make my child feel more comfortable before a doctor’s appointment?

Children with high fever: dress the child in light clothing, ensure that they drink lots of water (not juice or beverages) and give them Paracetamol if the fever is very high and the child does not have any medication allergies.

Children with earache: apply analgaesic ear drops (prescription-free products available in pharmacies, do not apply if the eardrum is ruptured), tell the child to maintain a semi-upright sitting position.

Pox: depending on the child’s age, consider applying a prescription-free antihistamine product that will help with itching or various creams, including cortisone and liniments. Please remember to pay attention to any possible medication allergies, the age of the child and the status of their skin (do not apply these products on wounded skin).

Children with stomach issues/colic: use prescription-free probiotic products and stomach-friendly foods, such as porridge/gruel, i.e. foods that can be digested easily and are neutral in flavour.

Children with skin disorders: apply creams, dress the child in loose and soft clothing and let the skin breathe.

How can the child’s immunity be improved?

• By observing a healthy and diverse diet
• By washing the child’s hands normally (do not use excessive amounts of disinfectants, only when travelling and during epidemics)
• By exercising and engaging in outdoor activities
• By allowing the child to become occasionally in contact with dirt
• Through the use of probiotics
• By maintaining the wellbeing of the child’s skin, i.e. avoiding excessive bathing and applying skin creams whenever needed

Specialists and locations

Minna Aaltonen
LT, lastentautien erikoislääkäri
Henrikka Aito
LT, lastentautien erikoislääkäri
Minna Aromaa
LT, lastentautien erikoislääkäri
Justin Bejedi
LL, lastentautien erikoislääkäri