Don’t ignore these signs, warns pediatrician

For any parent dealing with a sick child, deciding to take your child to the hospital casualty can fill you with as many worries as you hope the staff on duty will allay.

How do you decide if what is ailing your child is serious enough to bundle them into the car and drive to the hospital?

Without expert knowledge, parents are often left unsure how to know if their child needs urgent medical care, or if a visit to the doctor in the morning would suffice.

Parents have a natural instinct about danger sometimes they can start to doubt themselves when the pressure is on. Add to the mix the inevitable sleep deprivation and emotional upheaval dealing with a sick baby or toddler brings, parents often feel helpless and scared, not a great starting point for rational, clear thought.




We spoke to Dr Nadia Khan, a pediatrician at Hillcrest Private Hospital about what symptoms are an indicator that your child may need emergency medical attention.

She advised parents not to ignore the following symptoms or situations which should have you packing your child into the car and heading to casualty at your local hospital:


▪Fever of 38 degrees C or more in a child under three months, or a fever higher than 39 degrees C in any child over three months, especially if it isn’t reduced by fever-reducing medications.

▪Strange listlessness. Any extreme tiredness or drowsiness, or a child that is difficult to rouse from sleep.

▪Rapid, laboured or shallow breathing. Dr Khan said this could be due to serious respiratory cardiac or central nervous system diseases.

▪Unusually pale skin or blue discolouration of the skin.

▪A rapid resting heart rate.

▪Any seizures or abnormal movements

▪Welts or hives along with swelling on the face, lips or mouth.

▪Loose stools with vomiting or poor oral intake for example, in babies refusing the bottle or breast, or in older children refusing to drink anything.

▪Vomiting with headaches, fever, rash or an altered level of consciousness.

▪Any child who is choking, pale, and seems to have trouble breathing including newborns seeming to struggle to breathe.

▪Any parent worried that their child might have ingested something poisonous including medications, household products like detergents, or chemicals should also take the child to the hospital.



These signs and symptoms of an emergency are by no means exhaustive and certainly don’t replace the gut-instinct any parent tends to have about when their child is in need of help.

“Far better to err on the side of caution than risk missing something serious,” said Dr Khan.

Eve Morris
Photographer and Feature Writer

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