How to know when to take your child to the ER

Sometimes a child's illness can be confusing. How do you know when the ER is necessary?
Sometimes a child's illness can be confusing. How do you know when the ER is necessary?

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A hospital emergency room can be a busy place, especially those ERs that specialize in children.

With cold and flu season here it can a tough decision for parents to know when they should take their child to the hospital.

Temperature alone is not necessarily one of the best indicators, according to one physician.  Pediatrician Dr. Jessica Branscome is the medical director of the pediatric emergency room at Huntsville Hospital.

"Things I like to watch for is how they're breathing. Are they breathing faster than they normally do? Are they having a hard time taking their bottle or their feeds in because of their congestion?" she said.

She said dehydration can happen fast, especially in infants. "A rule of thumb is you should have at least one wet diaper every 6 hours," she recommended.

"You treat that fever and they're laying around and they look sick and they don't want to get up and drink or play. That's a sign that they need to be seen," added Branscome.

Doctors said when trying to decide when to take your child to the ER, know this: it's a decision you don't have to make alone.

"If you're worried, we're always here and we never close. But you can always call your local pediatrician and they will call you back or they will have a nurse on call that will call you back and help you make that decision", adds Branscome.

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