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How to Know When to Take Your Child to the ER vs Urgent Care

A sick or injured child can leave many parents scrambling for answers. Many aren’t sure if they should take a trip to the emergency room or urgent care. Here are a few deciding factors before you load them up in the car to get them on the road to feeling better.

Broken Bones

Many people rush to Urgent Care for broken bones. Urgent care clinics can deal with minor fractures, but don’t usually have all of the equipment to deal with a broken bone. Fractures are not minor at all. If they aren’t handled in the correct way, they can get worse. Sometimes a fracture even involves realignment under sedation, this is usually not offered at an urgent care clinic.

Facial Lacerations

Most urgent care clinics won’t put stitches or sutures in the face. If the cut is minor enough to glue it back together, you can usually go to an urgent care clinic. Facial lacerations often need a plastic surgeon to look at the cut and repair it. This can be round at an emergency room. If you’ve hit your head with the cut and fear a concussion, you need to get to the ER as soon as possible.


If your child has been throwing up and isn’t able to eat or drink, they may get dehydrated. This can be a scary situation, but you don’t need to head to the ER. A trip to urgent care can get them back on the right track. According to Dupage Immediate Care, an urgent care in Oak Brook, IV therapy is the fastest and most effective way to deliver these crucial treatments to the body and help get your kids back to health.


If your baby is less than two months old and has a fever, it can get serious quickly. A trip to the ER is important. A temperature at this age is defined as 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Most of the time, a fever is a way one’s body fights off disease. Even if your child has a high fever, they can usually take a trip to urgent care. Urgent care will test for things like the flu and strep throat.


An ear infection is not fun for children. You may notice them tugging at the ear. The inside of the ear canal might be red. This is not a concern for the emergency room. A trip to the urgent care will let you know if they do have an actual ear infection. They can quickly start your child on antibiotics and give them some relief for the pain.

Trouble Breathing

Irregular breathing can be many things. Young children with RSV will often breathe rapidly, but this does not warrant an ER visit. If your child has fast, heavy breathing, take them to the ER. If they are gasping for air, they could have major lung damage.

Eye Issues

If your child has red, inflamed eyes you can head to urgent care. Pink eye, or infectious conjunctivitis, is not a serious illness but is often uncomfortable for your child. Your eyes may be inflamed with or without discharge. They will be able to provide your child with pain relief.

Coughs and Colds

Many people rush to the ER fearing the flu when their child coughs or sneezes with a fever. This is just exposing them to more germs. A trip to urgent care will do the trick, and they shouldn’t end up waiting for hours. Coughs and colds can be easily evaluated at urgent care. If you fear your child has something worse than a cold, they can easily run tests.

Loss of Consciousness

If your child hits their head and loses consciousness, don’t wait around to see if anything happens. This could be serious as there are rare times there could be bleeding in the brain that goes unaccounted for hours. This could be fatal if not treated. The child could just have a concussion, but they could also have more serious issues. Losing consciousness is very serious in the medical world.

Overall, if your child is able to walk and talk without any issue, you do not usually need to rush to the emergency room. It’s normal to overreact when a child is ill or hurt. It’s important to be calm while you make this decision, and listen to your intuition.

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