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As parents, we often struggle with knowing when our child’s symptoms are serious enough to call the doctor. New parents especially lack confidence in this area and don’t want to be a pest but don’t want to ignore anything that might be serious. Don’t be afraid to call the doctor for reassurance if you are concerned about symptoms. The following things you should notify your doctor of right away:

· High or persistent fever. The definition of high fever depends on your child’s age, but generally any fever above 101 degrees, especially fever that doesn’t respond to fever reducing medicines, should be reported.
· Severe headache, especially if accompanied by a stiff neck. Also, headache that doesn’t respond to pain relievers or includes sensitivity to light.
· Sudden or profound unexplained lethargy, sluggishness or sleepiness.
· Vomiting that continues for more than 12 hours or vomit that is bloody-colored.
· Chills that can’t be alleviated or that shake the whole body.
· Any seizure or loss of consciousness.
· Ear ache, discharge from the ear, hearing loss.
· Facial pain around the nose, eyes and cheeks, especially with a stuffy or pressure feeling and a bloody or bad smelling discharge from the nose.
· Sudden hysterical crying that can’t be soothed.
· Blurry vision or swollen, red and watery eyes, or discharge from the eyes, bloodshot eyes with a discharge.
· Sore throat, especially if swallowing is difficult or impossible or the throat is red and infected looking.
· Cough that is persistent or harsh or cough that brings up bloody or green mucus. Cough that doesn’t go away in a day or two.
· Abdominal pain, especially if the urine is dark or urination is painful or very infrequent.
· Any cut that becomes red, swollen, has pus or is very painful.
· Bruises that don’t fade and disappear.
· Frequent and easy bruising, especially where the bruises don’t fade.
· Any sudden loss of sensation, paralysis or weakness in the limbs.
· Sudden rashes, especially those that cover a large area or have blisters.
· Rapid or shallow breathing, difficulty breathing, raspy or wheezy breathing.
· Blue colored nail beds or a blue cast to the face or hands or feet.
· Diarrhea that persists for more than 12 hours or appears bloody.
· Discharge from the penis or vagina that is heavy, thick or has an unusual odor or is dark or bloody looking.
· Yellow looking eyes or skin.
· Extreme hunger, thirst, fatigue or fruity smelling breath.
· Unexplained swelling and redness in the joints.

While physical symptoms are usually apparent to us, emotional symptoms can be more elusive. Preteens and teens are susceptible to depression and this illness can be hard to detect. If your child displays a sudden change in behavior or personality, seems sad, spends a great deal of time alone or becomes intrigued with dark or morbid things, it’s wise to consult your child’s doctor.

Children are vulnerable to disease and injury simply because they are small and can’t fight off infections that our adult bodies can or because they are still developing motor skills and are awkward. Their lives are also stressful and they sometimes don’t have the emotional maturity to handle all the input the world throws at them. Anytime you are alarmed by symptoms or injuries, you should consult your child’s doctor, even if just for reassurance. Where health is concerned it’s always best to play it safe.