Children get into many kinds of accidents, such as falls, which may or may not be severe. But, parents are always cautious, looking out for injuries and finding out if they are grievous in nature, so as to warrant immediate medical intervention.
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According to Dr Suresh Gowda, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, HRBR Layout, Bangalore, a paediatric emergency refers to a severe injury or illness that threatens a child’s health or has the potential to cause permanent harm. They can be both physical and psychological.
“Fortunately, most children have minor injuries that can be treated with a dab of ointment and dressing, and only 5 per cent of the patients are critically-injured and require an immediate visit to the nearest hospital,” says the doctor.
He adds that it is vital for a parent to know what kind of injury or illness can be treated at home and when to visit a doctor or emergency room. Ahead, he lists five common paediatric emergencies when a child should be brought to an emergency room (ER).
1. Falls: Leading cause of injury for children of all ages, especially babies and toddlers, due to their lack of control and balance. Playgrounds, slides, stairs, windows, beds, bathtubs, and elevated landings are some common fall hazards. Although most injuries are not severe, experts advise the parents to bring their child to a trauma centre if they have difficulty breathing, broken bones, severe bleeding, swelling, nausea, and loss of consciousness or memory loss after the accident. Injuries on the head, neck, back, or spine can be complex.
2. Burns: Children are curious and might grab a hot pan or stick their finger into an electrical socket, causing burns that require immediate medical attention. Thermal burns, electrical burns, chemical burns, radiation and cold burns are common. A kid may require a higher degree of specialty care if the burn has caused damage under the outer layer of skin or caused blisters. Experts suggest getting specialised burn care if it is located on the face, ears, hands, feet, or genital area. Extreme pain, irritation, swelling, redness, or foul odour also indicate a possible infection, requiring specialised care.
3. Trauma: A child can suffer from moderate to severe trauma after being in a motor vehicle accident, hurt during a football match, or hit by a heavy object. If these accidents cause head, back, neck, or spine injuries, they will require a visit to the doctor. They are also at risk of internal injuries and concussions.
4. Skin conditions: Some skin conditions are temporary, some can be chronic. Some are painless, while some others are accompanied by pain, redness, and other forms of discomfort. Genetic factors, environment, and allergies are some reasons for it. Rashes, chicken pox, hives, and erythema are common skin conditions treated in paediatric emergency rooms.
5. Cuts and puncture wounds: Children often accidentally cut themselves with something sharp while playing. Most cuts and wounds are healed after treating them with an ointment, but severe lacerations are not uncommon either. It is advised to visit the nearest ER if your child has been bleeding heavily even after 10 minutes of direct pressure. Also, if a cut is deeper than 0.5 inches and causes the inability to move parts of the body, emergency paediatric trauma care would be required.
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