When Do You Need to Take Your Child to the ER?
The typical emergency room experience can be difficult or scary for a sick child. When is it best to take your child to the ER or wait for your pediatician’s office to open the next day? Below are a few tips to help you decide:
1. Bumps on the head- every new walking toddler (or those that are already walking or running) hit their heads and get a few bumps and bruises during the early years. If your child gets right back up after the impact and stops crying after some serious soothing, an ice pack and some TLC is probably all she needs. Go to the ERor call 911 if your child loses consciousness or has an indentation in her head for emergency medical attention.
2. Mouth injuries – Why do all parents panic over mouth injuries? The mouth is rich in blood vessels, so cuts and scrapes bleed a lot (and it’s often hard to see where all that blood is coming from at first). Applying ice, having her suck on an ice pop or drink some cold water will soothe and stop bleeding. Go to the ER when there is a gaping wound or a cut that won’t stop bleeding after you’ve applied ice is a true emergency.
3. Fever – Most fevers, even high ones, are just a sign that your toddler is fighting off an infection, but many parents worry that a fever signals something worse. The American Academy of Pediatrics says Moms and Dads need to make a feverish tot comfortable, instead of trying to bring the temperature down to normal. Don’t be alarmed if that pain reliever doesn’t bring down her temperature right away. Instead, keep giving your little one plenty of fluids (and hugs) and check in with your pediatrician. Go to the Pediatrician when your child has a fever higher than 102.2°F or has had a fever for more than 24 hours (for a child younger than two) or 72 hours (for kids two and older). Go to the ER if your child’s fever is 102.2°F and she has a stiff neck, can’t stop crying or vomiting, is so lethargic it’s difficult to wake her up, or has a blue tongue or blue lips or nails (which means she’s not getting enough oxygen). Also go to the ER when a baby under three months has a fever of 100.4°F.
4. Vomiting- Persistent vomiting is another common reason parents head to the ER. But vomiting is usually caused by a stomach bug or infection and isn’t serious in and of itself. A bigger danger is dehydration, so be sure to offer your tot extra fluids (or Pedialyte), even if she just takes a sip at a time, as well as liquid-based foods like soups, fruits, and fruit pops. Most stomach bugs that cause vomiting last only 24 hours, so if your child is throwing up for more than a full day, call your Doctor. Call the pediatrician or go to the ER if there are signs of dehydration, such as : dry mouth, lack of tears, and dry diapers (or not much pee in the potty). Call your doctor or 911 if your child is vomiting after she’s hit her head, or is throwing up greenish fluid, blood, or what looks like coffee grounds (blood mixed with stomach acid).
5. Skin Rashes – Most rashes are not dangerous. Some are caused by allergies, while others are symptoms of viruses like fifth disease. It is recommended that your pediatrician check out a nasty or weird-looking rash, most rahses are not a cause for alarm. Go to the ER if your tot breaks out in a rash and has trouble breathing at the same time. Another rash that warrants an emergency room visit and a call to the doctor is petechiae, which is flat purplish dots caused by broken blood vessels that are usually a sign of a serious infection or bleeding problem.
Please always remember that there may be increased charges on your insurance coverage for emergency room visits. Please consult your plan booklet for information regarding the benefits available.