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When to Take Your Child to the ER (and When to Call a Doctor Instead)

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When a child is sick or injured, it can be a scary time for parents. But not all illnesses and bumps on the head require immediate hospital visits. Surge in cold virus RSVSo how do you determine which symptoms are worth going to the emergency room?

First, if you think your child is facing an emergency, stop reading this article and call 911.

However, there are many common complaints that can be attributed to colds, gastroenteritis, and other ailments. probably I’ll wait until the office opens…but again, I don’t know. One option at the moment is to check if your insurance company has a nurse line. Or, check to see if your child’s doctor offers an after-hours voicemail service.

But as general advice, here’s what pediatricians recommend: You may also enjoy watching the video below from Nemours. This video highlights some of the common symptoms.

When to go to the emergency room

Symptoms that require immediate medical attention include those that are severe enough to require immediate treatment or that can escalate rapidly. These include the following, but remember that you can call 911 rather than drive yourself if the trouble seems particularly urgent.

  • difficulty breathing
  • Fever ≥ 100.4 in newborns (<6 weeks old)
  • lose consciousness
  • a severe allergic reaction, especially with difficulty breathing
  • fainting or fainting
  • unusual drowsiness or confusion
  • Dehydration, such as not urinating.
  • vomiting, fainting, or strange behavior after hitting the head
  • a sustained rapid heartbeat or abnormally rapid breathing
  • A new seizure or a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes (call 911 for these)
  • Injury with deep cuts, uncontrolled bleeding, numbness or tingling
  • coughing or vomiting blood

When a trip to the ER can probably wait

The following symptoms may be uncomfortable for your child, but are usually not urgent. These can usually wait until you can call your doctor in the morning.

  • sore throat
  • persistent cough
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • ear pain
  • sinus pain
  • A shallow, non-bleeding cut
  • sprained joints and muscle strain

The American College of Family Medicine recommends calling your child’s doctor whenever you’re unsure of what to do. (Out of office hours, you can usually connect to a response service that can put you in touch with your doctor if you need to.) There’s also a more detailed guide to common complaints. here.

When to Take Your Child to the ER (and When to Call a Doctor Instead)

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