It’s only natural for parents to worry if their child is not feeling well, but we don’t want to “hover” either. Therefore, it is important to know the typical signs that your child is not feeling well.
Know Your Child
You know your child best, including their moods and preferences. If they are not acting like their usual self, it could be a problem at school, like stress or bullying, or it could be a sign of sickness.
If you suspect sickness, search for other signs.
Typical Signs of Sickness
There are a number of typical signs of sickness in relation to respiratory illness and gastrointestinal illness. Your child might complain about certain symptoms as well, though younger children will have to be observed carefully because they lack the vocabulary sometimes to say what’s wrong.
* Runny nose
* Stuffy nose
* Sore throat
* Body aches and pains
* Sometimes nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
* Loss of appetite
* Complaining food tastes funny
In most cases, respiratory symptoms will be a sign of a cold or the flu. However, if their symptoms do not improve after rest and medication, it could be a sign of something more serious. There are more than 700 illnesses that start out looking like a cold but could turn out to be something more.
For example, meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes of the central nervous system) can rapidly progress to extreme illness and even death. Typical additional symptoms to watch out for include severe headache and the inability or unwillingness to turn their head at the neck.
Warning Signs of Potentially Severe Illness
There are several warning signs of potentially severe illness that should be investigated. These include:
* High fever
* Looking flushed
* Sweating profusely
* Breathing issues: fast, troubled, shortness or stoppage of breath
* Bluish, purplish, or gray skin color, especially around the lips
* Not drinking enough fluids, or refusing to drink
* Not urinating, decreased number of wet diapers, or no tears when crying
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Not alert, listless, such as being overly quiet, not interested in their favorite toys, and so on
* Can’t tolerate being touched or held
* Very cranky and irritable
* Unusual aggression
* Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
* Sudden dizziness
* Symptoms that don’t improve even with medicine
* Symptoms that suddenly worsen
* Loss of consciousness
How to Treat Your Child at Home
If you think your child is ill, have them rest at least 24 hours. Check with your doctor or go to the ER if you notice any sudden or severe illness. Most of the time it will be a cold or flu. For a cold, they should drink plenty of fluids and eat things with vitamin C, such as oranges and kiwi fruits.
For the flu, you could take them to the doctor for a dose of antiviral medication. It won’t cure it but it will shorten the amount of time they are ill and also make the symptoms less severe.
Avoid giving aspirin, as it can trigger a rare condition called Reye’s syndrome. This can occur after a recent viral illness and results in confusion, listlessness and/or sudden aggression, and in rare cases may lead to organ failure and death.
Make sure they rest
Ensure they drink plenty of fluids, such as water, broth and 100% fruit juice. If they have been vomiting, use Pedialyte to rehydrate them and replace electrolytes.
Contact your health care provider immediately if a child younger than five years of age is suddenly unwell.
Encourage your child to wash their hands often, especially after using the toilet, vomiting, or sneezing and blowing their nose.
Most of the time, your child will experience the regular illnesses of childhood, but keep an eye on them just to make sure that it’s nothing serious.