When your child gets sick, like with a runny nose, cough, or fever, how do you know when it is a simple viral infection or something more serious?
Which symptoms should you worry about?
Most parents worry about fever, but how high a fever is doesn't necessarily tell you how sick your child is. A child can have a temperature of 102 or 103 F with a cold or other viral infection, but may still be eating and drinking and sleeping well and may not be very sick. On the other hand, a child can be deathly ill and may not have a fever at all.
So instead of worrying over the actual temperature, consider your child's other symptoms when she has a fever. Symptoms might include trouble breathing, being lethargic, being overly fussy and hard to console, or skipping feedings. A fever can also be worrisome if it is hard to control, like if it doesn't come down at all after giving your child a fever reducer, such as Tylenol.
Also, you should usually call your pediatrician or seek medical attention if your infant that is:
- three to six months old has a temp at or above 101 F (38.3 C)
- six to twelve months old has a temp at or above 103 F (39.4 C)
Red Flag Symptoms
Other symptoms that should raise a red flag and that your child might need immediate medical attention include:
- bilious (dark green) vomiting, a sign of an intestinal blockage
- bloody diarrhea
- fast breathing
- a constant cough, so that your child can barely take a breath between coughs
- vomiting or diarrhea that leads to dehydration
- being lethargic or difficult to wake up
- a bulging fontanel (soft spot)
- a non-blanching (doesn't briefly go away when you press on it) skin rash