Call the doctor if your child has any one of these 10 symptoms

Image of mother checking daughter's temperature.

1.  Extreme changes in behavior: Not being aware of surroundings or familiar people. Changes in speaking, such as difficulty forming words or completing thoughts.

2.  Signs of dehydration: Unable to keep down liquids. Frequent vomiting or diarrhea. Little oral intake and a dry sticky mouth. Urinating infrequently (less than every 8 hours in children younger than age 1; less than every 12 hours in children older than age 1).

3.  Pains that awaken a child at night: headaches, stomach aches, or muscle aches that awaken a child from a sound sleep.

4.  Abdominal pain that gets worse and won’t go away: If pain does not improve with child over-the-counter pain relievers. If a fever also is present. Pain with physical movement like walking.

5.  Blood in urine or stool: Blood in urine is very uncommon in children and could be a sign of infection or a kidney problem. Blood in stool when a child has not been constipated. Blood in stool when there is a history of travel. Painless bleeding without bowel movement.

6.  Pain or frequency with urination: Going to the bathroom many times in an hour. Pain when trying to urinate. Eating and drinking a lot but still losing weight. If a child is not verbal, look for these clues: irritability, crankiness, and fever for 2-3 days with no known cause.

7.  Fevers in certain age groups: Any child younger than 2 months with a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher should be seen immediately. Ages 2 months to 3 years with a fever for 2 to 3 days but no known cause. Fevers lasting longer than 5 to 6 days.

8.  Breathing problems: If your child does not have asthma and any of the following are happening: Rib cage squeezing, flared nostrils, straining abdominal muscles. Audible wheezing, which is a noise that sounds like harsh air blowing through a straw. A tight whistling sound during inhalation. If this isn’t helped by a cool mist or humidity, seek medical attention immediately. Coughing that is so severe that your child can’t breathe.

9.  Difficulty drinking: Can’t drink enough to urinate every 3-4 hours. Going 8-12 hours or more without urinating.

10. Parent’s gut instinct that something is wrong.


Source: Dr. Hannah Chow-Johnson, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

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