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Monday, March 9, 2009

Five Important Symptoms to NOT Overlook When Your Kids Complain

by Terri Forehand


Kids sometimes just complain of minor aches and pains, tummy aches, and headaches. How do you know what is real and what isn't? Here are five things to take seriously when your child complains.

1. Pay attention when your child says he or she can't breath. Look for a change in
skin color, pulling in the chest or ribs when taking a breath or noisy breathing.
If you see or hear signs of difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately.

2. Fever of 104 degrees or above that does not come down with Tylenol should have a
look see by the family doctor. Children under the age of one cannot tolerate fever
so those who have a 100.4 degree fever, should be seen regardless.

3. Pain should be assessed carefully. Belly pain is a common complaint, and belly pain
with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea may be just the flu. However, parents must also
keep in mind that appendicitis is common in children. So is constipation. Know your
child and their personal bowel habits to best make a decision.

4. Changes in mental status or behaviors should always be evaluated. I am not talking
toddler tantrums here or a cranky episode that can be put up to no nap time. I am
talking about an obvious change in alertness or mood for no apparent reason or a
deep sleep or drowsiness that can not be explained. These symptoms need to be
checked by a physician immediately.

5. Lumps and bruises that are outside the normal occasional bump from the coffee table
need attention. If your child has unexplained bruises on extremities, sudden purple
or red-bloody looking blisters, or lumps or masses that are unexplained, have them
evaluated by the family doctor.

I would add one other tip. If vomiting and diarrhea last more than 48 hours and your child is keeping nothing down, including water, he or she should be seen. Even if it is a simple flu, there are medications available to stop the vomiting so dehydration doesn't become an issue.

The most important thing I can tell parents is this. You know your child better than anyone. If you feel your child's symptoms warrant a doctor visit, then by all means take them in. Never let a medical professional belittle you for being a concerned parent, and never avoid getting your child seen for fear someone may think you are over-reacting. Remember the old cliche' ....It is better safe than sorry... especially with little one's. Your family doctor or nurse is just a phone call away. Trust your instincts and you be the judge.

Terri Forehand is a pediatric critical care nurse. Read more health care tips and other articles at her blog - Heartfeltwords4kids

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