When you have a sick child to tend to, your number one focus is to ensure they’re comfortable, safe, and on the mend. But even if you have their best interests at heart, knowing the best method of medical treatment for a given situation isn’t always easy. Some situations may warrant a visit to the urgent care clinic (or even the emergency room), while other ailments can easily be cared for at home. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common illnesses and injuries your kids may deal with and our suggestions as to where you should go for treatment.

  • Low-grade fevers: Fevers can set off the alarm bells, especially if they’re particularly high or your child is quite young. In either of those situations, you should go to the emergency room right away for immediate care. But when low-grade fevers are present without any other symptoms, you probably don’t need to panic right away. Initially, you may be able to treat at home with a fever-reducing medication. If their temperature continues to rise or doesn’t respond to medicine at all, you can head to your walk-in clinic to seek further treatment.
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing: Serious respiratory like these should not be ignored. While a simple cough shouldn’t indicate an emergency, a nagging chest cough with wheezing needs to be attended to right away. This should be treated as a potentially life-threatening situation, which means that you may need to bypass urgent care completely in favor of the emergency department. However, if your child seems to be breathing fine but has experienced a cough for a few weeks, you can go to your walk-in facility for care.
  • Minor cuts or burns: If your child needs stitches or has sustained a minor burn, you can actually go to your urgent care center for high-quality treatment. It’s unnecessary in these cases to make an appointment with the pediatrician or go to the ER, particularly if the events in question happen after regular business hours. The sooner they can be treated, the better off your child will be; although these small cuts and burns aren’t technically an emergency, the fast and convenient care they’ll receive at a local clinic will help them heal more quickly. Of course, deep cuts and serious burns should be evaluated at the hospital.
  • Ear infections: Ear infections are a very common ailment among young children, in particular. But even though they’re common, that doesn’t mean they’re no big deal. They can be very painful for kids and not every ear infection is caused by the same things. Some may be caused by viruses while bacteria can be blamed for others. And what you think may be an ear infection could turn out to be something else. It’s best to get immediate care at your local walk-in clinic, as more than one-quarter of U.S. patients did between 2014 and 2016 for all kinds of ailments, to make sure.
  • Dehydration: The signs of dehydration can be tough to spot, since they could mimic other illnesses. But if their skin and lips feel dry, they’re drowsy and irritable with low energy, and they have sunken eyes or have decreased their urine output, it’s time to get immediate care at the emergency room. In cases like these, it’s best to bypass the urgent care clinic completely; even if it’s not yet a life-threatening situation, you’ll want to err on the side of caution.

As a parent, you’ll always strive to do right by your children. But when a brand new ailment pops up, you can’t always instinctively know what to do. If you’re ever in doubt and you feel your child can benefit from immediate care, visit or call your local urgent care clinic. The highly qualified staff there can assess the illness or injury, provide treatment options and advice, or answer any questions you may have.