Sick kid? Never ignore these 5 symptoms

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Some common childhood symptoms may warrant a visit to the doctor’s office or emergency room. If you have a baby, check WebMD’s article suggested five serious symptoms on when to take a baby to the doctor or emergency room.

1. High fever in child older than 1
If your child is flushed and hot, your first instinct may be to see a doctor as quickly as possible, but this may not always be necessary. Pediatricians constantly teach parents not to look at the thermometer, but a child’s symptoms are and what to look for.

A fever is part of the body’s way of defending itself against an infection.

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 100F, but most pediatricians don’t recommend treating a fever unless it’s above 101F.

2. Bad headache
Minor headaches go away with over-the-counter pain relievers or rest. Major headaches do not.

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

Headaches can be commonly caused by tight muscles in the scalp and neck, 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 in the emergency room.

Headaches combined with fever, vomiting, confusion or stiff neck should also be evaluated quickly.

3. Widespread rash
Don’t be too concerned about a rash on your child’s arm or feet, they’re generally harmless. But if the rash covers their entire body, it could be far more serious.

A non-blanching rash, small red or purple spots on the skin that don’t change color when you press them maybe a medical emergency.

Hives should be immediately treated with Benadryl especially if there is lip or facial swelling.

4. Severe stomach bug
When your child has food poisoning or gastroenteritis (the so-called “stomach flu”), monitor how often they’re throwing up or having diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. If it is mild dehydration, give electrolyte solutions at home. If your child is getting worse, see their doctor.

Vomiting three times or more may not lead to dehydration, but eight bouts of diarrhea in eight hours probably will, as well as a combination of vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration needs to be closely monitored. They may need some IV fluids.

5. Stiff neck
A stiff neck can indicate meningitis, a true medical emergency if your child is standing rigidly, refusing to look left or right, it may be meningitis if combined with a fever. But a stiff neck by itself is rarely anything more than sore muscles. Meningitis is a combination of fever with a stiff neck, light sensitivity and headache.

Dr. Art Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log on to