Fevers, colds, and body aches are all unavoidable parts of your child’s growing up – and rarely do they merit a trip to the doctor. Yet, there are some physical symptoms that could indicate a more serious health problem. Here’s what to pay attention to.
1. High Fever
It’s normal for kids to get a fever. They accompany mild flues, severe colds and even sunburns. Normally, if you give your child a fever reducer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, the fever should drop within several hours. However, if a fever doesn’t subside, or drops and continues to rise again for more than 3 days, you should take your child to a doctor to get their condition evaluated further. A stubborn high fever is usually a sign of a more serious infection in the body – like bacterial pneumonia. These tougher infections require antibiotic treatment in order for your child’s body to recover fully.
While more common in adults, children do get headaches. A mild one is nothing to be worried about. However, if your child’s headache does not disappear with over-the-counter pain relievers or sleep, or the pain is so intense it becomes debilitating, you should take your child to the doctor as soon as you can. A headache can be a sign of a severe neurological problem (like a brain tumor), particularly if it’s accompanied by blurred vision or trouble walking. A headache with vomiting and stiff neck should also be treated immediately, as this can be a sign of meningitis – a curable, but extremely dangerous disease. Children can also suffer from regular migraine headaches, like adults. Speak to your child’s doctor about prescription medications or natural remedies to help control their onset.
3. Prolonged Vomiting
It’s almost unavoidable. Nearly every child will get food poisoning or a stomach bug at some point. But when they’re vomiting (or having diarrhea), you should keep an eye on how often and how long. Children who are experiencing prolonged vomiting are at risk for severe dehydration, and they may need to be put on an I.V. to keep their fluid levels high enough. A doctor can also write a prescription for a medication that will help stop your child’s vomiting.
4. Stiff Neck
A stiff neck is much less common in a child than in an adult. So, if your child complains of a severely sore neck, there is a chance this is a symptom of meningitis. Mild neck pain is nothing to worry about; however, if your child can’t bend her head forward to touch her chin to her chest, it could be an indication something more serious is going on. If your child’s neck pain appears in conjunction with a headache, vomiting, confusion, or if he also just feels really sick, take your child to the doctor or emergency room right away. Early treatment of meningitis is important to ensure a full (and fast) recovery.