The last thing any parent wants is for their child to feel sick. Fortunately, a run-of-the-mill cough or cold can warrant a trip to your local pediatric urgent care facility. With some rest and lots of TLC, your little one will be back in good spirits in no time. But in some cases, your child’s symptoms may be a bit more serious. They may even require 24 hour emergency care. But how can you tell whether that serious action is necessary? In today’s post, we’ll be discussing some signs that should prompt your family to seek out emergency care for your young child.

  • Respiratory Issues: When someone has difficulty breathing, regardless of their age, it should usually be considered a medical emergency. Respiratory distress (e.g., breathing difficulties that don’t allow someone to take in enough oxygen) may be accompanied by coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, the inability to talk, and/or blue tinges to the skin. If your child shows signs of abnormal or difficult breathing, head to a facility that provides 24 hour emergency care immediately.
  • Major Bone Breaks: In many cases, broken bones aren’t anything to panic about. Only 3% of patients who go to urgent care need to be diverted to an emergency department, and since many urgent care facilities will treat breaks, fractures, sprains, and strains, your child may receive the treatment they need without heading to the hospital. But in cases of serious breaks — like when the bone pierces the skin or when there’s head trauma involved — you’ll want to go to the ER instead. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Severe Dehydration: If your child has been throwing up or has a stomach bug, this can cause dehydration to the point of needing emergency attention. When a child is unable to keep down any liquids or has intense diarrhea, parents should watch for signs of dehydration (including sunken eyes and low amounts of urine) and take swift action if you aren’t successful with oral electrolyte solutions or other recommended remedies.
  • Abnormally High Fever: A fever doesn’t always require 24 hour emergency care. In some cases, a low-grade fever may merely require lots of rest and fluids. But if your child has a fever in excess of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or has a consistent fever for a few days in a row, you should seek out immediate medical treatment. Keep in mind that for children under the age of two, high fevers should warrant an emergency visit within 48 hours.
  • Confusion or Non-Responsiveness: Mental confusion, extreme lethargy, and non-responsiveness should set off some alarm bells for parents. There could be many possible explanations, many of them minor, but the potential for medical emergencies does exist — particularly when these symptoms are accompanied by others such as rash, stiff neck, extreme headache, blurred vision, vomiting, or other strange behaviors. If you observe any of these, you should opt for emergency treatment to exhaust all possibilities.

With any luck, you may never require 24 hour emergency care for your children. But if and when you do, it’s essential to recognize these symptoms and to be proactive about obtaining proper treatment.