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5 Serious Symptoms in Children to Never Ignore

What to keep in mind if your child gets a very high temperature or other worrisome symptoms.

High Fever in a Child Older Than 1 continued...

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that one in four parents give their children fever-reducing medication when their temperature is less than 100 F, but most pediatricians don't recommend treating a fever unless it's above 101 F. And if your child looks well and is eating and drinking, skip the trip to the ER; a high fever by itself doesn't always need urgent care.

“Most fevers in a child are not medical emergencies and can wait until the office opens to see a doctor,” says AAP spokeswoman Ari Brown, MD, a pediatrician based in Austin, Texas. She recommends that you bring your child age 2 or older to the doctor if he has a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, if he looks unwell, or if he has had a persistent fever for four or more days in a row . A child younger than 2 should be seen by a doctor within 48 hours of a fever.

Bad Headache

How can you tell whether your child's headache is serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention, or if letting her skip school and sleep it off would help?

“Minor headaches go away with over-the-counter pain relievers or rest,” Brown says. “Major headaches do not.”

If your child's headache endures for several hours - or if the pain is so intense that she can't eat, play, or even enjoy her favorite TV show - call the pediatrician.

“If it's severe enough to incapacitate the child, it needs to be evaluated now,” Schmitt says. “They cannot do any normal activities. All they can do is think about their pain.”

Headaches can be commonly caused by tight muscles in the scalp, rather than a problem related to the brain, but a headache with neurological symptoms (such as confusion, blurred vision and trouble walking) should be evaluated by an emergency room doctor.

Headaches combined with fever, vomiting, confusion or stiff neck should also be evaluated quickly as the child could have a serious infection or illness, such as meningitis, which is a medical emergency.

If a child gets headaches often, that needs to be evaluated. Children generally should not get headaches.

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