The main purpose of the Pediatric Symptom Checker is to help you know how sick your child is. This will help you decide if and when you need to call your doctor. The other purpose is to help you treat your child at home when it is safe to do so.

Your doctor's advice and your good judgment should always take precedence over information in these Care Guides.

Here are some instructions for using the Pediatric Symptom Checker.

Select a Care Guide. Choose the care guide that most closely matches your child's symptoms.

  • If you child has more than one symptom, focus on the most serious symptom. Serious means the symptom you think could cause the most harm. Here is an example. If your child has both a head injury and a nosebleed, use the head injury Care Guide first. Head injury is more serious.
  • If you are not sure which care guide to use, then use more than one.
  • Do not use the fever Care Guide unless fever is the only symptom. If your child also has a cough, diarrhea or other symptom, go to that Care Guide first.
  • Choosing the main symptom is important because it leads you to the best information for your child's illness or injury.

Use the Care Guide. There are three main areas in each Care Guide:

  1. Problem or This Care Guide Covers: Each Care Guide has an area that shows what This Care Guide Covers. Read this area to make sure it is a good description of your child's problem. If not, look at the related symptoms listed under See Other Care Guide If.
  2. When to Call. The When to Call area gives you guidance on how serious your child's problem is and what you should do. Your possible actions include Call 911, Call Your Doctor Now, Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours, and so on. Below each When to Call heading is a list of symptoms. Read the list from top to bottom and do not skip any items. Stop if you get to a statement that is true about your child's health problem. Then take the action suggested in the When to Call heading at the top of that list.
  3. Care Advice. This area gives you advice on how to treat minor illnesses and injuries at home. Follow this Care Advice if your child does not need to see your doctor. If your child needs to see the doctor, use this Care Advice until then. Be alert to any worsening or new symptoms. Call your doctor if your child gets worse.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Child Symptom Checker


This free app has a symptom checker,
dosage tables for common medications,
home health advice and more.

Apple version of the MD 4KIDS app
Android version of the MD 4KIDS app