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Articles > 10 symptoms you should never ignore

10 symptoms you should never ignore

What parent doesn_t wonder_at least once in a while_if her child is seriously ill or injured? It_s a good idea to take any health complaints seriously, since many conditions strike for the first time in childhood. For instance, nearly six million children suffer from asthma, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. And about half of migraine sufferers experience their first attack before age 12, says the Migraine Research Foundation. Here, the lowdown on the symptoms that should trigger a phone call to your child_s pediatrician or a trip to the ER:

Deborah Pike Olsen

Provided by HealthMonitor

1. Trouble breathing
What to watch for: shortness of breath, labored breathing (in which your child sucks in his chest and abdomen), or panting, grunting or wheezing (in which your child makes a whistling noise while breathing)
Possible causes: an allergic reaction (shortness of breath accompanied by red, swollen eyes, coughing, itchiness, hives or rashes); an asthma attack (shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness, especially early in the morning or at night); pneumonia (grunting, wheezing, unusually rapid breathing, labored breathing, fever, chills, cough, nasal congestion); or whooping cough (an uncontrollable, violent cough that interferes with breathing; your child may make a deep "whooping" sound when he tries to breathe)
Your action plan: Call 911.

2. A persistent high fever
What to watch for: a fever of 104?F or higher; one that doesn't respond to treatment with a pain-relieving medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen; a fever (defined as 100.4?F or higher) that lasts for four or more days in a row
Possible cause: an infection
Your action plan: Treat a fever above 101?F with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If your child seems particularly ill, call your pediatrician.

3. A painful limb
What to watch for: your child heard a snap or grinding noise when he was injured; swelling, bruising or tenderness around the injured limb; pain when your child tries to move, touch or press the body part; the limb appears deformed
Possible cause: a broken bone
Your action plan: Apply an ice pack wrapped in cloth and try not to move the injured limb. Then go to the ER. Don't let your child eat anything in case surgery is necessary.

4. Lip or facial swelling, plus a rash
What to watch for: sudden difficulty breathing, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, skin redness, cough, diarrhea, dizziness
Possible cause: anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction)
Your action plan: Call 911 immediately, and check your child's airway. If necessary, begin rescue breathing.

5. A serious cut
What to watch for: a deep, gaping wound (you can put your fingers on either side of the cut and tug it open); a cut that doesn't close on its own (a flap of skin pops up); a cut that bleeds several minutes after you've applied pressure
Cause: an injury
Your action plan: Head to the ER.

6. A stiff neck
What to watch for: fever and chills, disorientation, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, irritability, lack of appetite, rapid breathing, unusual posture (head and neck are arched backward)
Possible cause: bacterial meningitis (an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord)
Your action plan: Go to the ER, where a spinal tap (in which spinal fluid is collected) will be performed. Early treatment is the key to preventing complications, which can include brain damage, hearing loss and seizures.

7. An intense headache
What to watch for: a headache that occurs early in the morning or wakes your child up at night; one that's associated with vomiting; sudden, severe headaches or recurrent headaches that are associated with a change in personality and behavior; a headache accompanied by blurry vision, numbness, dizziness and difficulty walking or weakness; an ache that occurs at least once a week; one that follows a head injury; one that's accompanied by a fever, plus neck pain or stiffness
Possible causes: a migraine (severe pain often occurs on one or both sides of the head, is worsened by light or sounds, and is accompanied by nausea and vomiting); a serious illness like meningitis or encephalitis (other symptoms include fever and stiff neck); a head injury; a brain tumor or bleeding in the brain (the ache is usually accompanied by visual problems, dizziness, a lack of coordination and other neurological problems)
Your action plan: Call your child's pediatrician.

8. Stomach pain on the lower right side
What to watch for: mild fever and pain around the belly button (which often worsens and migrates to the lower right side of the abdomen), vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
Possible cause: appendicitis
Your action plan: Call your child's pediatrician immediately.

9. Dry mouth and/or infrequent urination
What to watch for: frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea, a lack of urine for 12 hours or only a small amount of dark yellow urine, fatigue or dizziness, dry or sticky mouth
Possible cause: dehydration due to a stomach virus
Your action plan: Call the pediatrician. Your child may need IV fluids or prescription medication to stop the vomiting.

10. Small red or purple spots on the skin
What to watch for: a widespread rash of small red or purple spots (which may be raised) that don't fade when you press on them, large bruises, fever, headache, congestion, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches
Possible cause: sepsis (a blood infection) often caused by meningococcal bacteria
Your action plan: Go to the ER
Asthma Diarrhea Meningitis Neck Pain Balance Blurred Vision Bronchospasm Cervical Pain Cervical Stiffness Chills Chronic Cough Congested Nose Cough Deafness Diarrhea Difficulty Breathing Dizziness Dry Heaves Dry Mouth Dyspnea Easy Bruising Emesis Eye Edema Eye Puffiness Eye Swelling Eyelid Swelling Fever Frequent Bowel Movements Headache Hearing Loss Irritability Joint Stiffness Loose Bowel Movements Loose Stool Loss Of Balance Loss of Hearing Loss of Strength Muscle Weakness Nasal Congestion Nausea Neck Pain Neck Stiffness Numbness Pain Pain, Head Pain, Neck Poor Appetite Puffy Eyes Puking Rapid Breathing Rash Seizures Sensitivity to Light Shortness of Breath Stiff Neck Stomach Pain Stool, Loose Stopped-Up Nose Swollen Eyes Throwing Up Unsteadiness Vomiting Watery Stool Weakness Wheezing Woozy Xerostomia Acetaminophen Ibuprofen Migraine Epilepsy Fatigue Pneumonia Brain Tumor Facial Swelling Upset Stomach Swelling

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