As parents, your children’s well-being is one of your top priorities. Because children’s bodies are still building a strong immune system, they may be ill often and visits to the doctor become a regular part of your routine.
If your child is suffering from a severe or serious illness, your concern may be coupled with a feeling of helplessness that cannot be described in words.
Minor health problems, such as a skinned knee, sneezing and coughing, or a mild fever, are not a cause for concern and you may not need to bring your child to the doctor. However, sometimes it is difficult to judge which signs and symptoms warrant a call to the doctor.
This is why it is important for you to learn about health signs and symptoms that need to be evaluated by a doctor before it escalates into something more serious.
Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore In Your Children
Here are some children’s health signs and symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
1. High Fever
Children often run a fever due to minor infections such as the stomach flu. However, a high fever can indicate a more serious illness or one that requires treatment.
For a baby between 3 and 6 months old, anything above 100.4°F rectally is considered a high fever. Infants below the age of 6 weeks are particularly vulnerable and should be promptly taken for medical evaluation if they run a high temperature.
If your child’s fever persists for a couple of days or more, you should consult a doctor. If the fever is due to a bacterial infection, antibiotic treatment will likely be needed.
If your child is running a high fever accompanied by a headache so severe that he or she has a hard time keeping his or her eyes open, it is not a good sign. These manifestations can be a sign of meningitis, a serious illness that requires medical care.
Other illnesses, such as the flu and ear infections, can also cause a fever.
2. Extreme Thirst
If your child is suddenly asking for more water to drink, especially at night, you should immediately take your child to a doctor for evaluation. Type 1 diabetes can occur in children under 20 years of age, and excessive thirst is one of the key signs of it.
The most common symptoms in children who have diabetes are polydipsia (excessive thirst), followed by polyuria (excessive urinating), tiredness, nocturia (urination at night), and weight loss, according to a 2014 study published in BMJ Open.
3. Breathing Difficulty
Babies grunt and groan from time to time, and rapid breathing is common in children when they have a fever. However, if rapid breathing has become a part of your child’s daily life, it is time to see a doctor.
Breathing difficulty, especially while playing or exercising, is a cause for concern. A distinct whistling sound during exhalation is a clear sign of asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention, 6.2 million children had asthma in 2015.
Even a minor breathing problem can take a toll on your child’s energy level and make him or her really sick. So, if you notice that your child is having breathing difficulty, bring your child to a pediatrician right away.
4. Prolonged Abdominal Pain
Children often complain of stomach pain. Sometimes it is real and sometimes it is an excuse to get out of a day at school or avoid eating something they do not like.
However, the problem should be taken seriously if the pain is severe and your child complains of it several times a week.
Also, take it seriously if the abdominal pain is on the lower right side and accompanied by feeling sick, vomiting, diarrhea, and tenderness when touched. These can be signs of appendicitis, a painful swelling of the appendix that needs urgent medical attention.
5. Pain While Urinating
If your child complains of pain while urinating, it is a sign that something is wrong. It can mean that your child has a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Infants who have UTI may show signs and symptoms including irritability, fever, vomiting, and trouble feeding. Older children may complain of discomfort while peeing, an increased urge to urinate, foul-smelling urine, and a fever.
Pain during urination can also be caused by irritation in or some kind of injury to the genitals. In girls, it can be due to vulvitis, an inflammation of the vulva that can occur due to taking bubble baths or using harsh soaps.
No matter what, call the doctor if your child has pain while urinating or cannot urinate.
6. Extreme Fatigue
The boundless energy of children keeps kids on the go and parents on their feet.
If your child shows symptoms of fatigue or does not seem to have the energy he or she usually does even after adequate rest, take it as a warning sign that something is wrong with your child.
There are several causes of extreme fatigue, including unhealthy eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and lack of sleep. Serious causes can be anemia, malabsorption, depression, cardiac or kidney disease, allergies, a viral infection, certain types of immune disorders, and cancers.
It is important to see a doctor to find out the cause of your child’s fatigue and determine if any treatment is needed.
7. Facial Swelling
Swelling of the face is a characteristic sign of a strong allergic reaction to something (mostly food allergies and poisonous insect bites or stings), which could progress to life-threatening anaphylaxis. It is another health concern that requires medical attention for quick diagnosis and treatment.
Facial swelling in children includes puffiness, bloating, or distention of the child’s face.
It can also be due to an infection. Infections are the most common cause of facial swelling, and imaging is indicated if there is concern about an underlying abscess that might require drainage.
Other possible causes include hypothyroidism, mumps, nephrotic syndrome, facial trauma, and an insect sting or bite, to name a few.
8. Blue Lips
If your baby’s lips have turned blue after eating a bowl of blueberries, blackberries, or blue-colored candy, it is not a matter of concern. Even extreme cold temperatures can lead to a blue tinge in the lips.
However, if your child’s lips are blue without a known trigger, it can be a sign of cyanosis. Cyanosis is caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood or lack of blood circulation.
Blue lips can also occur when a child has heart disease, pneumonia, asthma, or a host of other more rare conditions that cause breathing difficulty.
As the causes of blue lips range from incredibly mild to incredibly severe, it is important to note the accompanying symptoms as well and consult a doctor immediately.
9. Severe Rashes
Rashes are very common in children and are usually nothing to be concerned about.
However, you should consult a doctor if you notice severe rashes on your child’s body that are accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, vomiting, wheezing, trouble swallowing, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing. This could be a sign of an anaphylactic reaction, a life-threatening condition.
Rashes can be due to sepsis or meningitis, both of which require medical care.
10. Focusing Trouble
Children are curious beings. Everything and anything can catch their fancy, which means that their attention is always shifting from one area of interest to another. It is normal for children to exhibit occasional instances of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
However, children whose behavior and attention veer out of control on a more frequent basis are often diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Kids with ADHD are often misjudged as being rowdy, lazy, and troublemakers, when in fact they are just acting out due to their behavioral disorder. ADHD can severely interfere with your kid’s ability to learn and get along with others.
If you feel that your child exhibits a number of ADHD signs and symptoms that are present across all situations-at home, at school, and at play – you may want to consult a pediatrician.
11. Slow Weight Gain
Some children find it incredibly hard to gain weight, which can be due to a combination of different reasons. There is a list of medical, social, and economic factors that can limit a child’s access to food and thereby deter timely and adequate weight gain.
Some of the primary causes that can set back your child’s physical growth include:
- Inadequate food intake
- Problems with digestion or absorption of food
- Increasingly rapid rate of metabolism
Delayed weight gain is particularly a problem among children who were born prematurely. Also, children born to small parents are likely to gain weight more slowly compared with others.
Whatever the cause, you must always consult your child’s doctor if you feel that he or she is not gaining weight at the optimal rate.
- El-Radhi ASM. Fever management: Evidence vs current practice. World journal of clinical pediatrics. . Published December 8, 2012.