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When to seek urgent care during lockdown

We share several tips to help families decide when their child's signs or symptoms require a trip to urgent care.

3 June 2020
Mum calling the doctor.
Mum calling the doctor.
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Many families wonder when to seek urgent care for their children in the midst of a pandemic like COVID-19.

In line with the recommendations from scientific authorities, we thought it would be helpful to share several tips to help families decide when their child's signs or symptoms require a trip to urgent care.

Seeking professional help, calling 112, or going immediately to urgent care is recommended in the following situations:

  • Changes in skin colour (marked pallor, mottled skin, blue or grey skin), as it could be an indicator of poor blood flow.
  • Also if you find raised bumps (like insect bites), swollen lips or eyelids accompanied by laboured breathing and/or vomiting and/or diarrhoea, which would suggest an allergic reaction.
  • Seek urgent care if you observe abnormal movements, like seizure, or lack of response to stimuli, as well as an unusual level of irritability or drowsiness.
  • If the child has severe difficulty breathing (sucking in the ribs, rapid breathing, pauses in breathing, or is drowsy) you may need to seek treatment.
  • Immediate care is necessary if the child has choked and has difficulty breathing, vomiting and/or excessive drooling.
  • Seek immediate urgent care if the child has had an accident that causes heavy bleeding that does not stop after applying pressure for 10 minutes, a blow to the head with loss of consciousness, or an open fracture (the bone is visible).

You should consult a professional or seek urgent care within the next few hours:

  • If the child has red spots on the skin that do not go away when pressed, or if it is an infant younger than 3 months old with a fever, as a possible blood infection should be ruled out.
  • Likewise, seek urgent care if the child has a fever of more than 40.5ºC or a fever associated with some of the symptoms mentioned in the previous section.
  • If the child has swollen lips or eyelids or raised bumps on the skin not associated with other symptoms suddenly appear, the child should be seen by an urgent-care physician to rule out an allergic reaction.
  • If the child has difficulty breathing, is breathing fast, or is wheezing, seek medical care to rule out that treatment is needed to breathe better.
  • If the child has vomiting or diarrhoea associated with signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry mouth, concentrated urine), seek medical care to assess whether an I.V. should be administered.
  • Likewise, go to urgent care if the child is vomiting and has a severe headache or if you have an infant under a month old who refuses to breastfeed.
  • Also, if the child has swallowed a foreign object, especially batteries or magnets, he or she should be seen by a professional, as well as in the case of strong and persistent abdominal pain that worsens.
  • The child should be assessed by a specialist if he or she has had an accident and is obviously hurt or has a deep wound that needs stitches.
  • Go to urgent care if the child ingests any toxic product or has been given more than the prescribed dose of a medication.

If the child does not have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with the paediatrician since urgent care is not required.

In this link you can find a table prepared by the Spanish Society of Paediatric Emergencies (SEUP) that summarises when to seek urgent care (it is also attached as a PDF):

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When to seek urgent care during lockdown