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3 Common Illnesses & Injuries That Send Children to the ER

Between flu season and the playground, it may seem like there’s always a new injury or infection plaguing your child. The American Medical Association reports that children constituted 1/5 of all ER visits in 2018, and 18 percent of children aged 0 – 17 visited the ER at least once last year.

Protecting your child’s health begins with recognizing early symptoms of certain ailments and injuries. Here are three of the most common ailments and injuries that land children in the ER and how to identify them.

Digestive disorders

Certain digestive disorders, like appendicitis, can be some of the most painful for children. Unlike other ailments, which can be remedied by a cream or antibiotic, appendicitis requires immediate attention and surgery. If left untreated, the appendix can burst and pour toxic content into the abdomen. Symptoms can be initially mistaken for a stomachache or a milder digestive issue but will increase in severity as the appendix becomes more swollen. Look for these symptoms when deciding if you should take you child to an emergency center:

  • Pain that begins in the belly button and then moves to the right side of the body
  • Excessive amounts of gas and diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills

Appendicitis is extremely treatable when caught early on, so if your child is displaying these symptoms, don’t hesitate to take them to an emergency care center.

Concussions and neurological injuries

Concussions and other bumps and bruises on the head resulting from sports or playing can be one of the most difficult injuries to identify. A child may be unable to articulate their pain, especially as it’s not a cut or gash that they can see. In the past ten years alone, child ER visits for concussions have doubled.

Symptoms may include dizziness, irritability, appearing dazed or listless, and crying. Most importantly, watch for any noticeable change in attitude, which is usually a clear indicator of brain injury. 

Injury and overdose

Some injuries may be less obvious, especially if your child continues to play as if they’re fine. They may begin to rely on their opposite arm if a shoulder or elbow is injured or use one foot for support over the other.

  • Shoulder and elbow dislocation are common in young children as their bones continue to grow.

Overdose and poisoning have risen rapidly over the past decade, faster than any other injury related accident at ERs. Nearly 60,00 children are sent to the ER each year by accidental poisoning, according to the National Library of Medicine. Toddlers, children aged from 1-3, account for seven out of ten visits.

If your children are going to visit grandparents, make sure that all medications have been locked securely in a high place. Studies have reported that about 48 percent of overdoses happen at grandparents’ houses. Here are some of the most common symptoms of an overdose.

  • A child may seem sleepy or unresponsive
  • Cold sweats and fever
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking /convulsing and seizures

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, call the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222 for help, and take them to an emergency care center.

Serious injury or infection doesn’t have to be an inevitability of childhood. To protect the health of your child, look out for these symptoms and take them to an emergency room if necessary.

As scary as your child being ill or injured can be, our experienced staff is here to provide you with the utmost quality of services to help you and your family. In the case of any medical emergency, Oklahoma ER & Hospital is there 24/7, 365 to provide compassionate, concierge-level emergency care to all patients.

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Oklahoma ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.


Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Oklahoma ER & Hospital, or any one of our concierge-level, medical facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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