By Francesca L. Kritz
Consult Your Doctor
One night a few summers ago, when my 18-month-old daughter's mosquito bites
were making her itchy, cranky, and sleepless, I went to a 24-hour pharmacy to
buy antihistamine. It wasn't until I got home that I read the package
instructions: for children under 6, consult physician. By then it was after
10:00 p.m., and I didn't want to bother her doctor. So I guessed and gave Dina
a teaspoonful. As it turns out, the amount was right, but that...
Unlike with older children, crying isn't always a reliable pain indicator in babies. That's because crying is a baby's way of expressing a whole host of needs. Here are signs that a baby may be in pain.
Changes in crying patterns. A baby's distressed cry sometimes, but not always, sounds different from ordinary crying. Changes in your baby's behavior can also be a tip-off. For example, crying that can't be soothed with a bottle, diaper change, or cuddling could signal pain. Also, a calm baby who becomes unusually fussy could be in pain.
Crying while nursing. Sucking can create pressure in the ears. The baby who cries while nursing could very well have a painful ear infection.
Prolonged, intense crying, often at the same time each day. This behavior is common with colic, which occurs in infants due to abdominal pain. It often starts at the age of 2 weeks, peaks at 6 weeks, and then gradually declines.
Crying and drawing the legs up to the abdomen. Your baby could have colic or a serious medical condition.
Withdrawing. Chronic pain can sap a baby's energy, causing him or her to become still, quiet, and to avoid eye contact.
Symptoms of Pain in Toddlers
Fortunately, at this age, children in pain can talk, if only to say, "Owie, owie, owie!" They will often also clutch the part that hurts. Pulling or rubbing the ear is common in toddlers and although it can sometimes indicate ear pain, it is more often associated with teething or simply habitual. Suspect an ear infection if your child has had cold symptoms or a fever and begins to tug at the ear suddenly.
Symptoms of Pain in Children and Adolescents
Chronic or recurrent pain is common in children and adolescents. Research has shown that as many as 30% to 40% complain of pain at least once a week. Consult your child's health care provider to determine the cause and to get treatment.