Paediatric emergencies

What are paediatric emergencies?

Paediatric emergencies require immediate medical attention and may be caused by an illness, injury, accident or allergic reaction. The most common paediatric emergencies seen in the emergency department include:

Gold StarCroup
This is an infection of the upper airway, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough. The barking cough, as well as other symptoms of croup, are the swelling around the larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe) and the bronchi (bronchial tubes).

Gold StarAsthma
Childhood asthma is a condition that occurs when the lungs become inflamed when exposed to certain triggers like inhaling pollen or catching a cold or other respiratory infection. It can cause bothersome daily symptoms that may interfere with playing, sports, school and sleep. Left unmanaged, asthma may cause dangerous asthma attacks.

Gold StarPersistent high fever
Fevers are normally a symptom of an underlying condition. In most cases, fevers are not a cause of concern; however, if a child’s fever is 40 degrees Celsius, it may cause a seizure. This is why it requires immediate medical attention. It may also indicate the presence of a life-threatening infection.

Gold StarProlonged seizures
Seizures or convulsions may be caused by a high-grade fever or an underlying condition such as epilepsy.

Gold StarCongenital heart problems
These are heart problems that a child is born with. Some congenital heart defects are simple to treat or don’t require treatment. Some are more complex and may require surgical treatment. There are different types of congenital heart problems such as heart valve defects, heart wall defects and blood vessel defects.

How are paediatric emergencies treated?

Dr Nsele will first assess the little one’s situation using the Paediatric Assessment Triangle (PAT). PAT involves key features of an overall paediatric cardiopulmonary assessment (appearance, work of breathing, and circulation to the skin). Depending on the child’s condition, a suitable treatment plan will be made.


What are the most common red flags or symptoms of paediatric emergencies?

The most common red flags or symptoms of paediatric emergencies include:

  • Gold StarPoor feeding
  • Gold StarFever, especially if it is persistent
  • Gold StarVomiting
  • Gold StarDehydration
  • Gold StarProfuse diarrhoea or bloody diarrhoea
  • Gold StarRapid heart rate
  • Gold StarWeakness
  • Gold StarRapid/fast breathing
Can asthma cause serious complications?

Yes, asthma may cause complications such as:

  • Gold StarPoor sleep and fatigue
  • Gold StarPermanent decline in lung function
  • Gold StarSevere asthma attacks
  • Gold StarMissed school days or falling behind with schoolwork.
Is croup dangerous?

Croup can be very scary; however, it isn't serious, and most children recover without experiencing any problems.

parallax background
Star Icon

When should my child see a Paediatrician

Star Icon

Visits with your paediatrician should begin as soon as your child is born. This allows you to become familiar with your child’s doctor, and also allows your child’s health to be monitored from an early age.

View all FAQ Contact Us