When to go to Urgent Care for Fever
If your fever lasts more than three days, you’re showing other symptoms like neck stiffness or trouble moving one or both sides of your body, or you have a high-grade fever (100.4°F) for an infant, child, or teenager with flu symptoms. High fevers could be a sign of bacterial infections, including meningitis. To treat a high fever in adults and older children: Take Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen (Advil), and/or naproxen sodium (Aleve). In infants and younger children who can’t swallow pills yet: Use an oral syringe with medicine as directed by your doctor.
Although parents might assume that a fever must be treated by a doctor in urgent care, it’s actually reasonable to treat with over-the-counter medications at home. In fact, most fevers are nothing more than viral infections, which usually resolve without any medical intervention. If your child’s fever is over 104oF (40oC), lasts more than four days, or comes along with other concerning symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, you should call your pediatrician. The same goes if you notice that your child isn’t moving around normally or seems unusually irritable or drowsy. No matter what type of fever your kid has, make sure they stay hydrated while they’re ill—fluids will help their body get rid of toxins and prevent dehydration.
In general, if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and an obvious source of infection (like a wound or cut), it’s probably time to head straight to urgent care, says Eynon. While you could wait it out at home with some Tylenol, runny noses and coughs aren’t just annoying—they can be signs of more serious illness too. The same goes for very high fevers; these could be triggered by infections that are more easily treated when they’re caught early.
It’s important to get immediate treatment for fevers, but many urgent care centers do not treat fevers—especially mild ones. They also may not give immunizations or prescription medication. Be sure to ask your doctor if there is a more appropriate healthcare option if you are suffering from a low-grade fever, such as seeing your regular physician, or visiting an urgent care center that provides primary health services like flu shots and prescriptions. The best way to get immediate help with a fever is by contacting 911. If you have access to medical care—whether it’s in your office building or on your smartphone—you should call 911 instead of waiting it out at home or work and then going directly to an urgent care center once you feel better.