Getting sick every now and then with a stuffy nose or a small cough is considered a normal part of childhood. Sometimes, however, children can present medical symptoms that are more serious.
It is important that serious medical issues like these are not overlooked. Understanding which medical symptoms doctors consider red flags can help parents know when a situation is serious enough for them to seek medical attention and how quickly they must do so.
All kids get a little sick sometimes, even getting sick often during certain times of the year. These sorts of medical issues don’t usually result in serious symptoms and are not signs of more serious problems. More serious ailments, however, are not normally seen in children sick with a typical bug and must therefore be checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible, in many cases immediately for the best care of the child. Parents should watch out for the following ten dangerous medical symptoms that could indicate a serious health problem with their children:
Children who are having serious difficulty breathing should immediately see a medical professional. Rapid breathing can occur when a child has a fever, but otherwise may be a sign of a problem. Children who are having problems breathing due to an allergy or sickness can try taking Over the Counter (OTC) medicine to resolve the problem, though a professional should be seen if the issue does not clear up quickly. If breathing problems are persistent, the child may be suffering from some form of asthma.
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Getting a small fever is the body’s natural way of fighting off an infection, but when a child’s fever goes too high it can damage his or her body and is a sign of a serious problem. Any body temperature measuring above 100.4 F is usually considered to be a fever, while dangerous temperatures start at 103 F for children under 1 year of age and 104 F for all other children. Any fevers that last more than two days for children under 2 years of age or 4 days for all other children is also a serious red flag that should be a cause for alarm.
While a mild fever under about 100 F is not a sign of a serious problem in most cases, if it is paired with a strong or persistent headache, it could be a red flag. Headaches accompanying fevers could be a sign of brain-related problems or even meningitis, if the child is also suffering from vomiting and rashes.
Every child vomits from time to time, but excessive vomiting is not normal or safe. It can lead to dehydration and malnutrition in the long-term. Parents whose children are having trouble keeping food or liquids down should try to give the child small sips of electrolyte solutions to keep them hydrated for at least four hours before giving them food again. If a child continues to vomit nonstop for more than one day, parents should seek medical attention. Excessive vomiting paired with a fever could indicate several issues, as can blood or discoloration found in the vomit.
It is common for children to get belly aches, but severe stomach pain should not be ignored. Pain that is emanating from the lower right side and accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, for example, could be a sign of appendicitis. Children with severe stomach pain or issues that last for a significant period of time should consult a medical professional immediately for evaluation.
Most children are filled with energy, bouncing off the walls for much of the day. While energy levels are specific to each child, parents who note a significant decrease in their child’s energy level should be concerned. While a lack of sleep could be the explanation for a couple days of tiredness, continued fatigue could be a sign of something more serious. Fatigue is a common sign of many mental health issues that could be affecting other aspects of a child’s wellbeing.
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While children go through sudden growth spurts seemingly overnight, sudden increases or decreases in weigh alone are not normal. Parents who notice that their child’s weight has been fluctuating and cannot find a reasonable cause should seek medical attention to rule out any more serious causes.
Many children are moderately allergic to cats, dogs and many plants and vegetables that could cause a rash if they were to come into contact with the child. An extensive rash, however, covers significant portions of the child’s body and causes redness and soreness. Serious rashes like this are often a sign of a serious problem that could quickly cause other issues, like difficulty breathing. Parents in these situations should quickly seek medical attention for their child.
It is normal for children to drink a lot of liquids, especially if they are active or outside. If they never seem to feel like they have had enough, however, there may be a problem. Constant thirst can be a sign of diabetes, diet issues and other health problems that affect the child’s entire body. Parents of children with excessive thirst should seek a medical evaluation for the child to rule out any more serious problems.
Children under the age of 2 should be monitored to make sure they are normally responding to sounds in their environment. If they fail to react to even loud sounds, the child’s parents should take him or her to see a specialist. Older children who show any difference in their hearing abilities should also be taken to see a specialist, if no obvious cause for the problem can be identified. Sudden changes in hearing abilities are usually due to exposure to too many loud noises, so parents can attempt to regulate the volume at which their children watch TV, play video games and listen to music to try to resolve continued problems.
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