Symptoms That Last Too Long
When your child has any serious symptoms, you know it's time to call your healthcare provider. But when the symptoms are mild, it's harder to know when they have gone on too long. What you need are some arbitrary cutoffs. So if your child's illness has lingered on, but he otherwise looks well, the following guidelines will help you know when to seek help:
- If burning with urination lasts over 24 hours, your child needs a urine culture.
- If vomiting without diarrhea lasts over 24 hours, let's check the abdomen.
- If a sore throat lasts over 2 days, your child may need a throat culture.
- If ear congestion and popping (but without pain) lasts over 2 days, let's check the eardrums.
- If fever lasts over 3 days, we need to look for a secondary bacterial infection such as an ear or sinus infection.
- If diarrhea lasts over 7 days, we may need a stool culture.
- If pink eyes (but without pus) last over 7 days, we need to examine the eyes rather than continue to assume this is part of a cold.
- If bone pain from an injury lasts over 7 days, we need to consider an x-ray.
- If croup lasts over 10 days, your child needs a lung exam.
- If nasal discharge and congestion lasts over 2 weeks, we need to consider a sinus infection.
- If a cough lasts over 3 weeks, your child also needs a lung exam.
In summary, the natural course of viral illnesses depends on the particular symptom. When the pattern becomes atypical, it's time to evaluate your child for other causes or complications.
If you think your child may need to be seen, call your healthcare provider for advice.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/1/2005
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.