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Minor Problem vs. a True Emergency

Many minor injuries can be handled at home. However, there are times when a trip to the hospital emergency department is needed. In general, take your child to an emergency room after an injury anytime you think the problem may need urgent attention, including if your child has:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Bloody sputum (coughing up blood) 

  • Blue or purple color to lips, skin, or nail beds

  • Chest or stomach pain or pressure

  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea 

  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision

  • Change in mental status (such as loss of consciousness, confusion, or trouble waking)

  • Seizures

  • Animal, snake, or human bites

  • Severe pain or loss of motion or sensation anywhere in the body

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that does not stop with direct pressure

  • Severe burns or burns of the face

  • Broken bones

  • Puncture wounds

  • Head, spinal cord, or eye injuries

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the face, lips, eyes, or tongue, fainting, or with trouble breathing, swallowing, or wheezing

This is a partial list. There are other problems that may need emergency care. Contact your child's healthcare provider for more information.

Online Medical Reviewer: Adler, Liora C., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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