It's every parent's nightmare: a medical emergency involving your child. Whether it's difficulty breathing or a fall at the park, knowing when to call 911 can help you cope quickly and efficiently with childhood emergencies and stay calm under pressure.
Here are some guidelines for 7 of the most common medical emergencies in children:
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our January-February 2012 issue, we asked WebMD children's health expert, Roy Benaroch, MD, how parents can help with the problem of antibiotic overuse.
Q: I’m worried that kids -- mine and others -- are taking too many antibiotics too often. What can parents do?
A: You’re right to be concerned. Antibiotics are overprescribed. And the potential consequences, including drug-resistant...
Respiratory distress refers to difficulty breathing and taking in enough oxygen. Causes may include choking, asthma, an infection, or pneumonia. The signs of respiratory distress are coughing, wheezing, labored breathing (especially flaring of the nose and use of chest and neck muscles to aid breathing), grunting, inability to talk, or turning blue.
When to Call 911:
The rate of breathing is greater than 50 to 60 breaths per minute.
If these signs are present, don't try to put your child in a car -- call an ambulance. The paramedics can deliver oxygen and get your child safely to the hospital.
2. Broken Bones
Broken bones are common childhood emergencies. While these injuries are usually not life-threatening, the child should be taken to a hospital or urgent care center for evaluation. Generally speaking, parents can drive kids with broken bones to the hospital themselves.
When to Call 911:
The break is so severe that you can't control the pain.
Vomiting and/or diarrhea can require emergency care if a child becomes dehydrated. If your child can't keep anything down or has severe diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, dry mucus membranes, and abnormally low amounts of urine. If any of these appear your child should be evaluated by the doctor