How to Handle the 5 Most Common Child Medical Emergencies

medical-emergencyI’m sure it’s no longer a secret.  Newport Children’s Medical Group now has four locations in Orange County to better serve our smallest and most loyal patients – your children.  Whether it’s an emergency or same-day attention your child needs, we offer appointments seven days a week.  We’ve even gone the extra mile and now accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Health Net Covered California Plans.  The way we see it, parenting is a 24/7 responsibility.  And your pediatricians should be just as committed to the health and well-being of your children as any parent would be.

We also understand that just like parenting, accidents and small mishaps never take a vacation even on the holidays.  Below is a list of the most common emergencies.   Do you know when to call us if you need our help?  Check it out and see how well you would handle everyday emergencies.

Your toddler grabs your mug of hot tea and spills it on themselves. Do you call us?

Call us if the hot beverage spill covers a large portion of their body.  For example, the spill reaches their face, hands, arms, feet and genitals if they happen to be sitting down.   If it’s a small area, act fast by slipping or ripping off the clothing or carrying them into a cold shower fast!  If it’s something like a hand or small portion of their forearm, running cold water in the sink should do the trick.  Keep running the water until the skin reaches a nice cool temperature.

Never Do This

Never apply butter, oil, mayonnaise or petroleum jelly.  Unfortunately, these remedies can trap and hold heat close to the skin.

Do This Instead

For red skin (first-degree burns) or superficial blisters (minor second-degree burns) use an antibiotic cream or ointment after cooling the injured area and cover with a bandage.  Then wrap an ice pack with a towel and apply over the bandage.

Your child’s playmate takes a huge bite of your child’s arm leaving broken skin.  Call us?

You bet.  Depending upon how the wound looks and its location, we can treat your child.  But first, always wash the wound with soap and warm water immediately.  Dry it carefully and then apply an antibiotic cream or ointment and dress the wound with a bandage.

Since human bites carry the most bacteria, a human bite could cause a serious infection.  To be on the safe side, we would probably prescribe an oral antibiotic as well.

Your child begins to cough or wheeze uncontrollably or experiences difficulty breathing and they are unable to talk, or are turning blue.

Never do this

If the rate of breathing is 50 to 60 breaths per minute, or your child is turning blue around the mouth or the condition is getting worse NEVER, ever attempt to drive your child to the ER.

Do This Instead

Call 911 immediately.  An ambulance will have oxygen on board and get your child to the ER safely. Never attempt to make the drive yourself.  You’ll probably be too absorbed in helping your child to drive safely. After all, paramedics are trained to do this for you.

Your toddler falls and bites their tongue.  There seems to be buckets of blood! Call us?

Call us if the wound is still bleeding after applying direct pressure for 10 or 15 minutes.

Never do this

Never panic.  I know it seems like a lot of blood but that’s because there are a ton of blood vessels in the human tongue even in a tiny toddler’s tongue.   All that blood may scare both you and your child, and, of course, crying makes the bleeding worse.

Do This Instead

Dampen a clean washcloth with cool water and place your child on your lap and press the cloth over the injured area of the tongue.  The tough part is keeping your child still long enough to get the bleeding to stop.

If you’re truly concerned, you can make that trip to the ER.  But the doctor would probably calm your child and apply a washcloth too. Children have amazing resilient tongues, and you’ll be amazed at how fast this injury will heal itself.

For a while, make sure your child avoids any foods that are really salty or acidic.  Have them drink plenty of cold liquids.  You’ll be surprised at how far cold fruit smoothies and ice cream can go in easing the pain and the upset.

You’re changing the diaper and your child has swollen red bumps across their tummy and chest.  Call us?

No.  Hives are a common occurrence, and often go away on their own.  Your child may experience some discomfort.   The good news is that hives look really terrible but are totally normal. Their one distinguishing characteristic is that they appear in one spot and then disappear, only to reappear somewhere else.

Hives can be an allergic reaction to certain foods and medicines.  It can also be triggered by external factors like soaps, shampoos, sunscreen, clothing and detergents.  Even viruses and fluctuating temperatures can cause an outbreak.  So it’s not unusual to see an outbreak at pres-schools and daycare centers during flu season.  An oral antihistamine is usually given by doctors to relieve the itching and minimize the swelling and reoccurrence.  Topical creams do not help since the hives are an internal reaction.

Call 911 if….

You’re child experiences any of the following in conjunction with hives:

  • swollen tongue or lips
  • begins vomiting
  • passes out
  • difficulty breathing