Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Toddler Tuesday! 5 tips for knowing when to take your toddler to the ER.

For most bumps and bruises a kiss will do. For fevers, coughs and colds a visit to the Pediatrician might be in order. But how do you know when a symptom that your little bug collector has is more serious than the rest? Well, besides the obvious things, like gushing blood or getting bitten by a snake, here are a few more subtle symptoms you should watch out for.

1. Refuses to use an arm or leg.
As your little gymnast grows his bones will to solidify and thicken. suddenly one day a fall from a bed could snap a bone that just days before would have been able to bend and spring back. So if your child does break a bone, you might not know it right away. Some kids show pain very vocally, while some will keep it to themselves. However, if your little one is limping, crawling or suddenly left-handed all the time it's time to go get it checked out. A broken bone that is left unset can not only heal improperly and leave a child unable to develop normally but it can sometimes damage other tissue including nerves and blood vessels. So if you have a strong suspicion that your little boy has a broken bone, don't let it go for a few days, head straight in to the hospital for an x-ray.

2. Redness from a bug bite begins to travel up the arm.
Most bug bites, even spider bites will be itchy but ultimately harmless. Of course if your child shows evidence of an allergic reaction you should rush to the hospital right away, but if they just have an itchy bump most of the time it will go away after a day or two. There is an exception to this rule though. Sometimes a bite will develop an infection. The skin does not have to be broken for this to happen, and though there might be a low-level fever it might not be high enough that you would notice. The danger with infection is that it would enter your little entomologists bloodstream and travel to her vital organs. However, as long as you keep an eye on the bite it is easy to tell if this is happening. If an infection is traveling up an arm or leg, you will see a bright red line leading from the bite. Some infections travel faster than others, so as soon as you notice the stripe, get moving!

3. Absence of urine, or urine that smells like solid waste.
After the first 6 months or so most parents start to lose track of how often their baby is peeing. However, it is very important that you keep a habit of making sure that your little toilet-paper sculptor has gone pee at least once a day. If you notice that it has been about 24 hours since the last wee-wee, watch carefully to see if there are any wet diapers or potties over the next 12 or so hours if there are not, take your baby in. Also, if you begin to notice that your child's urine smells just like a poopy diaper this is another alarming indication that there might be something very wrong with his kidneys, bladder or digestive tract and a trip to the hospital is in order.

4. If your child is extremely lethargic.
Now when you think lethargic, you might just think sleepy. Well, what I mean when I say lethargic is if your child is so sleepy that you can put her in a cold bath and she will barely open her eyes for a few seconds. This type of lethargy can be a symptom of quite a few majorly dangerous problems. Whether there is a problem with your doodle-bug's blood sugar or some type of pressure on her brain you want to get the worst possibilities ruled out fast.

5. Inability to keep solid food down over an 8 hour period.
Many viruses and colds can cause your child to vomit. However, no matter what the reason, if your little wall artist can't keep solids down over a fairly long period, chances are that he is in danger of becoming dehydrated. There are many very serious reasons that a child could be vomiting, as well as thousands more that are nothing to worry about. However, if your little one goes too long without taking in any solids, even if he can keep down fluids it is important that you have him checked out. Remember that often fluids will be expelled along with solids when your child throws up, and the serious things that could be causing this type of reaction, which could be anything from an allergic reaction to an obstruction of some kind need to be caught early to prevent serious complications.

I know that most parents who read this are going to feel immediately freaked out, but keep in mind, that most children will probably never have any of these things happen. The purpose of this post is to give you more things to keep an eye out for in the worst cases. Too often if a parent does not know that a certain symptom can be serious it can be left to cause more serious damage before it is eventually discovered and sorted out. If you have found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new and expecting parents that you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!

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