|Is It An Emergency?
by SARA AHMAD
We help you determine whether your child's health scares are as bad as they seem
Most incidents are easily treated with common sense and a hug. But sooner or later, you'll encounter a situation that requires real medical attention. It's not a question of if an accident will happen, but when. For example, if your baby swallows poison, you must know that it is an emergency. Even in small amounts, common household products, medications, and even chewable kids' vitamins can be hazardous to a baby. Check this complete guide where doctors explain whether you should grab the first-aid kit, or dial on emergency numbers in an emergency situation.
Spikes A Fever
It's an emergency if your baby is under 3 months old, and his rectal temperature is 100.4°Fahrenheit or higher. Head to the emergency room. Fever in new babies is taken very seriously in part because they haven't gotten most of their vaccinations yet, and can quickly get very sick if there's an infection. The big concern here is meningitis, a potentially fatal infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Doctors do lab work and if the baby is less than 4 weeks old, they do a spinal tap to test for meningitis. If he has it, doctor recommends to admit him.
It's probably not if your baby has passed the 3-month mark and has received his first haemophilus influenzae type b (HiB), and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, which help prevent meningitis. However, your child's doctor will most likely start treating the fever if it reaches 101.5°Fahrenheit. Paediatricians may be more aggressive about fever if a child has not been immunised.
Falls From A Height
It's an emergency if your baby isn't breathing. Call for an ambulance or rush her to a hospital immediately. If she's breathing but otherwise not responsive, it's still wise to head to the emergency room. Since falls can cause fractures and serious head injuries, let your baby's behaviour guide you. Check her entire body for any signs of injury: Redness, swelling, pain from touch, bleeding, or other worrisome signs including excessive crying, vomiting, and abnormal eye movements. If she refuses to move an arm or a leg, doesn't seem like herself, won't wake easily from sleep, is inconsolably fussy, or vomits 12 to 24 hours after she's fallen, seek immediate medical attention. Don't waste time.
It's probably not if you can easily soothe your baby's cries after a fall, and she seems to behave normally. Even vomiting within the first 12 hours after a fall is not worrisome. After a bump on the head the brain is irritated, and vomiting in the first 12 hours is normal. After that, however, it may signal a brain injury. Make sure there's no swelling or bruising anywhere, and that your baby can still move her arms and legs. Once you get through the first 24 hours, your baby should be fine.
Swallows An Object
It's an emergency if you think your baby put an object like a small toy in his mouth, and he can't breather or is struggling for breath, or he swallowed a button battery. Call the nearest hospital that can deal with emergencies.
It's probably not if the object isn't toxic, or making him cough or vomit green bile (a sign of intestinal blockage), and if your child is otherwise breathing and behaving normally. But your paediatrician may still want to order an X-ray to locate the object and determine whether to wait for it to come out the other end, or have it removed immediately. If your baby is coughing, he may cough out the object by himself. You can help the process along by leaning him forward. If his airway is completely blocked, give him five sharp blows between his shoulders.
Has An Allergic Reaction To Food
It's an emergency if your child has flaring nostrils, or high-pitched whistles as she inhales, swollen lips, or is turning blue. A severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) can quickly close off your baby's airways. Don't try to handle this serious condition on your own, at home. A doctor needs to be consulted for such emergencies, as you can't predict how bad your child's reaction could be and how much worse it can get.
It's probably not if the reaction doesn't immediately jeopardise your baby's breathing. Milder allergic reactions can vary widely, showing up as anything from eczema and angry-looking diaper rash to reflux, or diarrhoea. These can be handled at the clinic. You can also follow up with your doctor for testing to see what else your baby is allergic to.