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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 require emergency care. Contact your child's doctor for more information.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Trevino, Healther, M., BSN, RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 11/30/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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