Symptoms of serious illness in children

Immediate medical care may be needed when fever, vomiting, or a seizure occurs along with signs of a serious illness.

Symptoms of serious illness include:

  • Severe neck stiffness or pain and fussiness.
  • Extreme sleepiness, difficulty waking up, or a lack of alertness.
  • A bulging soft spot (fontanel) on a baby's head.
  • Rapid, difficult breathing.
  • Drooling and not wanting to swallow.
  • Severe pain.
  • Signs of severe dehydration.
  • Blue or purple skin or mucous membranes (cyanosis).
  • New skin rash or spontaneous bruising.
  • New swelling, pain, redness, or warmth in one or more joints.
  • Fever of 105°F (40.6°C) or higher 30 to 60 minutes after giving medication for fever.
  • Any signs of a urinary tract infection, such as pain or burning with urination or urinating frequently and in small amounts.

Last Updated: February 25, 2010

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: David Messenger, MD Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

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