An individual’s pulse, or heart rate, is the variety of times the heart beats per minute. Taking someone’s pulse can tell doctors important aspects of his/her health.
Heart rate can differ depending upon things like an individual’s age and level of stress or activity at the time the pulse is taken. It’s typical for a heart rate to be irregular– meaning that the heart will slow down or accelerate from time to time. But when it beats faster than what’s considered typical for an extended length of time, it could indicate a problem.
What’s a Normal Heart Rate?
A child’s hearts typically beat much faster than an adult’s. A healthy adult heart rate can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute during rest.
Kids’ heart rates can be as low as 60 beats per minute during sleep and as high as 220 beats per minute during strenuous physical activity. It’s regular for athletic kids to have slower resting heart rates, often in the 40s or 50s.
Before taking your child’s pulse, consult your doctor to see what range is thought about typical for your child.
When to Take a Child’s Pulse
Typically, there’s no need to take your child’s pulse. Your doctor will check your child’s heart rate at well checkups.
However if your child has a medical condition that needs you to monitor his/her heart rate, your doctor may have told you when to take a pulse. You might have to do it regularly, or just on celebration. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
You also need to take a pulse if your child ever experiences a “racing” heart or palpitations– when it seems like the heart is “avoiding” a beat. Some kids state this seems like a ringing, beeping, vibrating, or fluttering feeling in their chest. (Usually, however, these feelings are absolutely nothing serious and often not even related to the heart. Muscles in the neck or chest can in some cases twinge or spasm, making someone think it’s the heart avoiding or racing.).
Other times to examine a pulse include if your child:
- has chest pain.
- has difficulty breathing that is not caused by asthma.
- has skin that all of a sudden turns pale or grey, or has lips that are blue.
If your child has any of the symptoms above, start taking the pulse immediately. Make note of the activity that triggered the symptoms and make certain to tell the doctor.
How Do I Take a Pulse?
To take your child’s pulse, you will require a watch with a minute hand, or a stop-watch with the minutes and seconds displayed (this is typically simpler to use). Discover a quiet place where your child can sit or lie comfortably.
If your child has simply been active (running, jumping, weeping, etc.), wait at least 5 minutes to enable the heart time to decrease and go back to a regular beat.
To feel a pulse, you press two fingers– your index (” guideline”) and middle fingers– onto a significant artery in the body. Press gently. Never push with your thumb, as it has a pulse all its own and can shake off a reading. When you’ve located the pulse, you will feel a throbbing sensation.
There are numerous areas on the body to check out a pulse, but in kids these are usually the most convenient places:
- On the neck (carotid artery pulse). The carotid artery runs along either side of the throat (windpipe). Run your fingers about halfway down the neck and press gently to the left or right side of the windpipe (thoroughly preventing the Adam’s apple in teenager children). Press gently. You need to feel the pulse. If not, try once again or on the other side.
- On the wrist (radial pulse). This is the spot where most grownups have their pulse taken. It can work well in kids, too. To find the right spot, put a finger at the base of your child’s thumb and slide it directly down to the wrist. On the wrist, press carefully to understanding of the pulse. This works best if your child’s hand is lying flat or bent somewhat backward.
- In the armpit (axillary pulse). Press your fingertips into the armpit, feeling around for the arm bone. When you feel the arm bone underneath your fingers, you need to also feel the pulse. This technique works well for infants.
- In the crease of the elbow (brachial pulse). This place works best for babies. Place your infant on his/her back with one arm flat along the baby’s side (elbow crease dealing with up). In the crease of the elbow, gently place your fingers on the inside of the arm (the pinky side). Feel around for a pulse.
As soon as you have actually located the pulse (feeling a “throbbing” or “beating” feeling on your fingers), begin counting the beats within a 30-second timeframe. After 30 seconds, stop. Take the variety of beats (for example, 45 beats in a 30-second duration) and double it. So:
- 45 x 2 = 90 beats per minute. The heart rate for your child would be 90, which is within the regular range for many kids. (This is simply an example; your child’s heart rate might be different.).
If you don’t feel comfortable taking a pulse in this manner, or have difficulty, there is another choice. Numerous smartphone apps can give pulse readings merely by pressing a finger over the camera lens. For a good reading, your child has to be very still, so this method works best in older kids who are more cooperative. Before using among these, ask your doctor if it’s a great idea or if he or she advises a specific heart rate app.
When to Call the Doctor.
If your child’s heart rate is within the normal variety, you do not need to call the doctor (unless your doctor asked you to call with the reading, where case you need to phone call to report that it’s typical). There’s likewise no have to call if the heart rate decreased or sped up while you were taking the pulse. Some variation in speed is typical.
If your child’s heart rate is above the regular variety, or too quick to count, wait a bit and reconsider it. It may return to a regular rate. If it’s still too high, call your doctor. If your child is having other symptoms in addition to a high heart rate, call 911 or drive your child to the nearest Emergency Room.
If you have any other questions about taking a child’s pulse, call your doctor.