When your child wakes in the middle of the night with a severe physical symptom like a splitting headache or high fever it can be scary. While it’s easy to understand that any vehicle accident requires a visit to the emergency room, but when does an ache or pain warrant rushing in for emergency medical care instead of waiting for an appointment with your general practitioner. How can you tell if your back or stomach pain needs to be treated immediately, or if a headache can wait until morning to deal with?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 130.4 million people are taken to the emergency room (ER) every year. Typical reasons for visiting the ER include miscarriages, earaches, fevers, and allergic reactions. Depending on how serious your illness or injury is, you’ll need to determine how urgently your child requires medical attention. Following are the most common reasons for visits to emergency departments.
The most common reason children visit the ER is due to fever, especially when combined with other symptoms such as headache, sinus congestion, cough, and colds. Parents should seek medical care for any fever over 104 degrees F.
The three most common types of headaches are cluster, tension, and migraines, which are generally not dangerous. While regular headaches are typically not considered an emergency, according to the Mayo Clinic, you should seek immediate medical attention if your headache includes fever, seizures, mental confusion, or is the result of a head injury.
Ear pain is often the reason for an urgent care visit. Children who have recently been diagnosed with an ear infection or have a history of ear infections or otitis media, seek ER care more often than those suffering from first-time ear pain. Be concerned if an earache is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or headache.
Over 40 million people require ER & Urgent Care each year due to injuries, according to the CDC. The leading cause of visits to the emergency room among children and adults is from sprains and strains, followed by complaints such as bruises, fractures, and open wounds. The leading causes of the majority of injuries include vehicular collisions, falls, and accidental injuries. While minor cuts and contusions can usually be treated safely at home, contusions and head trauma require immediate care, and deep cuts can require a tetanus shot.
Infections can range from a minor infected wound to more serious issues such as a kidney infection.Infections caused by bacteria, meaning they likely won’t respond to antibiotics or over-the-counter home treatments and must be treated by medical professionals. Severe infections need immediate care. Meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, and infections in those with weakened immune systems are cause for concern.
Chest pain and discomfort are a common reason people make the trip to the emergency room. Fortunately, in children, chest pain is rarely an indicator of a heart attack. Ask your child these six important questions to help determine if emergency care is needed.
Abdominal pain can be caused by the stomach flu, appendicitis, a pulled muscle, a urinary tract infection or gas. Most mild stomach aches can be treated at home or through a visit to your general practitioner, however, if abdominal pain is severe, experts recommend that you go to the emergency room. Signs of a child needing emergency care include vomiting blood, bloody stool, or loss of consciousness.
Breathing issues, shortness of breath, and serious coughing, especially when combined with a fever, land many people in the ER each year. Seek urgent care immediately if your child has difficulty breathing including suffering from a respiratory disorder, asthma, or pneumonia. Indications of respiratory distress may include flaring nostrils or the use of belly muscles to breathe.
While medical advice is helpful, remember to trust your instincts and use your own best judgment. If you believe your child needs urgent care, don't hesitate to go to the doctor. In the case of a medical emergency, urgent care is important, so if there is ever any doubt as to the severity of a condition, contact a medical professional immediately.