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How To Tell If Your Child Is Sick

Dr. Joel Warsh Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Joel Warsh on May 12, 2021

Kids get sick all the time, and much more frequently than adults. That’s to be expected since their immune systems aren’t as experienced or robust as their parents’. It takes time for kids to build up immunity to many common allergens and illnesses, like the common cold.

But many parents struggle with telling when their children are sick, especially if their kids are quiet or shy. Most kids don’t know how to explain when they are feeling sick or may not recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction until it has escalated.

While these scenarios can sound scary, there are other ways to tell if you have a sick child besides asking them directly.

The Difficulties with Telling If Your Child is Sick

Even the most communicative, self-aware kids don’t have the same awareness of their bodies as adults. Think about it – how can you tell that you’re sick and need to pick up some medicine on the way home from work? It’s from experience.

Unlike adults, kids don’t have the same experience with illness until they have been sick multiple times and can recognize the symptoms. Instead, many kids will just say they “feel bad” when asked, which can be deceivingly broad to even experienced parents.

So if you want to make sure that your child is healthy and be able to tell if they’re sick, you’ll have to tell one way or the other besides asking them.


Symptoms to Watch For

One simple way parents can tell if their children are sick is to look for certain symptoms. Of course, this also requires parents to be aware of conditions or illnesses that might affect their kids. So, it can be difficult to do this proactively if your child is suffering from a condition you aren’t prepared for, such as a rare illness.

However, there are some common symptoms you can watch out for. These can tell you if your child is sick with a common cold, the flu, or other basic illnesses that everyone catches sooner or later.

  • Fevers – These are the body’s way of trying to burn out an infection. They also usually occur when your child is already sick.
  • Vomiting or nausea – These symptoms occur when your child has an upset stomach because of food poisoning, or they might have eaten something that disagrees with them due to a food sensitivity or even just indulgence.
  • Rashes – These are incredibly common in children, especially since kids love to play outside and rub their skin on all kinds of surfaces. But, you should pay special attention to rashes since they may also indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Headaches – Kids often suffer headaches when they feel generally bad or when they get sick. See if your child holds their head or seems sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.
  • Drowsiness and fatigue in the middle of the day – Kids need to sleep more than adults, but if your child is sleepier than average, their body might be fighting off an infection.
  • Irritability – Even adults get cranky when they feel sick. Kids do this as well, but their crankiness is often even easier to notice.
  • Complaints about the temperature – Sometimes kids can experience the early symptoms of a fever without knowing it. If they shiver in normal temperatures or complain about feeling too hot or cold, it might be a sign that they’re sick.

Be Aware of Potential Allergic Reactions

Parents should also be prepared for any signs of allergies. If your family doesn’t have any genetic history of allergies, it’s also less likely that your child will be severely allergic to any single thing. But, it’s never certain – anyone can be allergic to common allergens like peanuts, certain plants, and more.

You should look for signs of allergic reactions like:

  • Difficulty breathing, which may indicate an allergic reaction to something inhaled in the air
  • Rashes, which can indicate a topical or epidermal reaction to a particular plant, environmental, animal, or food item
  • Hives, which are bumpy, itchy, welt-like rashes that can crop up as a reaction to both environmental allergies and food allergies

If you think your child has suffered an allergic reaction, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor ASAP. They’ll be able to analyze the situation and give your kid some medication to help with the symptoms fast if the allergy has any risk of becoming serious.

You might also consider having some allergy medicine on hand just in case, especially if certain allergies run in your family. You can use Genexa’s Kids’ Allergy Care medicine, a homeopathic, non-drowsy remedy to help address symptoms associated with allergies like itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose.

Kids’ Allergy Care only has the clean, necessary ingredients formulated to alleviate some of the symptoms your child might experience from respiratory allergic reactions, like hay fever. Have a bottle of this medicine on hand and you’ll be prepared if your child ever needs some relief.

Behaviors That Might Indicate Illness

Your child’s overall behavior could tell you that they aren’t feeling very well, too. Kids aren’t very good at directly telling you that they don’t feel well. But other behaviors could point to signs of illness or just a general feeling of being under the weather.

For instance, many kids have trouble keeping their attention on things for very long when they feel sick. Your child might not be interested in watching their favorite TV show, playing their favorite game, or going outside and riding their bike.

Lethargic behavior could mean that something’s the matter besides their mood.

Whimpering or regular crying can also be a sign that your kid isn’t feeling very good. Ask them why they’re crying. If they can’t give you a direct answer, it might be that they feel bad and don’t know how to describe where the problem is or what it feels like.

If your kid doesn’t want to eat or drink, that’s another bad sign. Lack of appetite is common in adults who are sick, even with common illnesses like a cold or the flu. Again, kids won’t necessarily tell you that they feel sick. They’ll just be uninterested in eating or drinking, even when their favorite meal is on the table.

Communicate with Your Child

It’s important to use all of the above tips to see if your kid feels sick. But, it’s also important to just communicate with them regularly.

While they won’t be able to be very specific when describing their symptoms, you should believe your child if they tell you something is wrong. Kids know their bodies pretty well, even if they don’t have the language or self-reflection to describe those feelings as accurately as adults.

For example, if your child repeatedly says that they feel “funny” or “tired,” take them seriously and give them fluids and some time off school. If their issues continue, consider checking them in with your pediatrician to see if they can find something wrong.

Summary

In the end, even the most experienced parents may have a little trouble telling if their children are sick. If you’re unsure about your own conclusions, that’s okay! It’s never a bad thing to get a second opinion from your pediatrician.

Still, practicing the above methods and paying close attention to your child’s behavior, in addition to listening to what they say, can go a long way toward catching illnesses or allergies before they become too serious. We’d also recommend having real, clean medicine on hand to deal with sudden issues to help ease symptoms while you wait for your appointment.

For other remedies for coughing, pain relief, and more, Genexa has you covered with their dedication to providing you and your family with real medicine, made clean, that you can rely on.


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