5 Reasons to Take Your Child to the ER

Written by Kasey M. Fuqua

Bumps, bruises, coughs and colds are common issues in childhood. When you’re a parent, it’s important to know when illnesses and injuries are no big deal—and when they require an immediate trip to the hospital.

Five reasons to take your child to the emergency room include:

High Fever

Fevers can have dangerous complications for children. You should take your child to the hospital immediately if your child is:

  • Less than 3 months old with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  • Three months old to 3 years old with a fever of  102.2 degrees  or higher
  • Three years old or older with a fever of 102 degrees  or higher for multiple days in a row
  • Any age, has a fever and displays symptoms such as difficulty breathing, trouble waking up, stomach pain, stiff neck or rash

Trouble Breathing

Difficulty breathing is a warning sign of serious respiratory illness or even an asthma attack. Your child needs to go to the emergency room if his or her breathing is:

  • High-pitched or whistling
  • Noisy
  • Rapid and shallow

Head injury

Head injuries can be serious, even if the injury doesn’t break the skin. Sometimes symptoms can take a few hours to show up, but that doesn’t mean the injury isn’t serious. If your child shows any of these symptoms after a head injury, head to the hospital immediately:

  • Sudden sleepiness
  • Difficulty walking or talking
  • Strange behavior
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness (even if brief)
  • Pupils of different sizes
  • Severe bleeding


Kids are more likely to experience seizures as a result of fever than adults are. However, if your child has never had a seizure before, he or she still needs to be evaluated to ensure the seizure isn’t a sign of a bigger problem. During a seizure, your child may grow stiff, stop responding, shake or foam at the mouth.

Severe bone fractures

Broken bones are a common childhood injury. Many broken bones aren’t emergencies, but you should always take your child to the hospital if:

  • The broken bone breaks through the skin
  • The body looks disfigured because of the fracture
  • The skin turns white when you press on the hand or foot, but doesn’t return to its normal color afterwards

If your child shows signs of shock, go to an emergency room. Shock may mean your child has a severe injury, even if you can’t see the broken bone. Signs of shock include pale, cold skin; rapid breathing or heartbeat; enlarged pupils; weakness; dizziness or vomiting.

About the author

Kasey M. Fuqua

Kasey Fuqua has been writing for hospitals and healthcare publications for over five years. Her writing often inspires her to explore new habits at home, from baking healthier to trying different workout routines. She’s a firm believer in lifting heavy weights, enjoying the food you eat and getting eight hours of sleep.