Baby Health: Figuring Out if a Baby Is Sick
Not sure if your baby is sick? One or more of the following symptoms is often a good indication of baby's health.
- Coughing Respiratory irritation from a common cold, allergies or the inhalation of an object can cause coughing in babies. Discuss a chronic cough with your doc.
- Wheezing Wheezing is caused by narrowed airways in the lungs and excess mucus in the airways or lungs. Wheezing is most often caused by a viral infection and, generally speaking, the more rapid or difficult the breathing, the more serious the infection.
- Runny nose This hallmark of kid colds is usually caused by a viral infection, but can also be due to allergies. Runny noses usually start clear and can become thick, yellowish or greenish within a day or so. Have your baby checked if the runny nose lasts longer than 10 days.
- Croup Croup—caused by inflammation of the windpipe, below the vocal cords&mash;is distinguished by a hoarse, barking cough. In severe cases, a baby's windpipe can actually become obstructed. The noisier and more difficult the breathing, the more serious the obstruction.
- Vomiting Vomiting is less common in kids than in adults and kids are generally less bothered by it than we are, too! Vomiting can be caused by stomach irritation, but is more often a side effect of another illness. Watch that your child doesn't become dehydrated from frequent vomiting and isn't in a position to choke on or inhale vomit. (And be prepared with buckets and sponges for cleanup!)
- Diarrhea Diarrhea, which is often accompanied by stomach cramps or pain, is generally a sign of an irritated bowel (either by stimulation or infection). Watch your baby for signs of dehydration if diarrhea persists.
- Dehydration Symptoms of dehydration in babies include dry mouth, infrequent urination, dark urine, tearless crying and, in more severe cases, weight loss, lethargy or irritability, sunken eyes or soft spot, and pale wrinkled skin. Be especially alert for these signs if baby has been vomiting or has diarrhea as dehydration can occur quickly in babies. Infection can also cause dehydration, which can result in reduced blood circulation.
- Skin changes Watch your baby's skin for sudden changes including paleness, flushing and yellow or pink in the whites of his or her eyes. Such skin changes can indicate an infection such as flu, jaundice or pinkeye.
- Rashes Skin rashes can result from viral or bacterial infections or allergic reactions to foods or medicines.
- Fever Higher than normal temperatures can be a indication of infection, but may also be caused by reactions to immunizations or even overdressing.
- Behavioral changes Uncharacteristic behavior changes, like fussiness, irritability or sleepiness can be an indication that your baby has an illness or infection.