10 Health Symptoms To Never Ignore In A Child

As parents, some symptoms in our kids seem alarming, some we ignore and some confuse us. How do we know when to rush to the doctor? Let's look at 10 health symptoms to never ignore in your child.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 9 min read

10 Health Symptoms To Never Ignore In A Child

“Sana learnt something new recently. When her three-year-old badly cut his knee while playing in the garden, Sana ignored the bleeding and assumed it would stop on its own like the usual wounds. She washed the wound in running water and allowed her son to carry on playing. Unfortunately, after a few days, the cut had become badly infected and her son had to be rushed to the emergency.”

The lesson learnt from this all-too-familiar scenario is to pay heed to the varied health symptoms your child displays. Keep track and observe your child, and if anything seems out of the ordinary you should visit the doctor. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

So, what are the health symptoms that you should never ignore in your child? Here goes:

1. Unusual weight gain: While many of you may disagree with this, it is a health symptom you should not overlook. While raising a child, you tend to feed your child with a variety of food. From dairy products to meat, from health drinks to cereals, you ensure the best for your little one. However, weight gain is not something that happens overnight or in a few days. It is a gradual process with children putting on weight in accordance with their age and growth.

So, if you notice your child putting on weight rapidly, do not attribute it to the food you feed him. It could be a symptom of hypothyroidism, edema, Cushing's syndrome or acromegaly. It is better to get a doctor’s opinion in such situations.

2. Tiredness: Does your child feel tired and lethargic most of the time? Is he unable to concentrate on studies or complains of weariness even after a good night’s sleep? It is okay if your child is tired after playtime or any kind of physical activity. However, if he is predominantly tired all the time, especially even after being well-rested, it could indicate health issues such as obstructive sleep, mononucleosis, or even anaemia. 

Dr Mubashir Shah, Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology, says, “When a child becomes less active and lethargic all the time, it might be a sign of some underlying abnormality.”

3. A swollen face: If your child’s face suddenly becomes swollen especially around the eyes and feet, her skin itches, and she finds it hard to breathe, do not ignore it and rush her to the doctor. It may be a symptom of anaphylaxis, which is an allergic reaction caused by exposure to something that your child may be allergic to, such as peanuts. It could also be an after-effect of a sting from a bee. An allergic reaction can be a serious medical condition and requires immediate clinical treatment.

4. Vomiting after a fall: Children fall down often, be it while playing around, climbing up or reaching for something. It is nothing new. However, vomiting after a fall is not normal. If your child vomits, loses consciousness after a fall or seems dazed and confused, it’s time to get your doctor’s advice. It could be a symptom of something more serious like an internal head injury.

5. Severe abdominal pain: Stomach pain in children is quite common too. It could be due to overeating or consuming new food that their delicate digestive systems are not accustomed to. It could even be due to the intake of spicy, oily or junk food. However, if you notice symptoms such as vomiting, continuous diarrhoea and abdominal pain on the lower right side of your child’s stomach (including pain every time someone touches your child’s stomach), it could be a case of appendicitis. This condition involves a painful swelling of the appendix, with the pain worsening with each passing minute. It could also indicate some other abdominal problem that requires medical care.

6. Weight loss: Just as unusual weight gain in a child is a symptom of ill health, so is rapid weight loss. Especially, if your child is eating well, having his meals at regular intervals, but still losing weight, consult the doctor who will help get to the bottom of this issue. It could be an indicative symptom of a health issue that requires further examination.

7. Extreme thirst: If your child feels thirsty after playing for hours, it is normal. However, extreme thirst, even without any physical activity involved, calls for a health check. If you observe that your child has excessive thirst or can’t seem to satisfy his thirst, just get him checked by a doctor. It could be a possible case of diabetes. 

“While drinking water at regular intervals is essential for your child’s good health, if your child is constantly thirsty it might require medical attention. It might be a case of Polydipsia (excessive thirst) and Polyuria (frequent urination), which are common and basic symptoms of diabetes,” explains Dr Mubashir.

8. Pain while urinating: Does your little one complain of pain every time he or she urinates? This is one of the most common symptoms of urinary infection. If not treated on time, the infection can worsen, spread or even lead to more serious kidney problems such as the formation of kidney stones, which can be quite painful. Therefore, consult a doctor immediately.

9. High fever and headache: Fever during childhood is usual. It is the body’s natural mechanism to fight against viruses and infection, and will subside in some time. However, in cases when the temperature is very high, consistently rising at an alarming rate or accompanied by severe headaches, head to the doctor’s office immediately. It could be a case of meningitis.

10. Breathing problems: Difficulty in breathing can be caused by respiratory infections. However, does your child struggle to breathe or do you hear a wheezing sound like a whistle as he breathes? In such situations, seek medical help. If these symptoms are followed by a bluish tinge on your child’s lips, it may be a case of severe bronchiolitis. All these symptoms could even be signs of an allergy or asthma.

We have listed the top 10 signs and symptoms to particularly pay heed to when your child falls ill or injures herself. Being aware of these signs will help you reach out for medical intervention on time, thereby detecting adverse health conditions early, treating them and preventing serious outcomes. Take care.

Dr Mubashir Shah is Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology, at a leading hospital.

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