When to Call the Doctor: 8 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

5. Excessive sleepiness, lethargy, confusion or belligerence: Many things can cause a child to have any of these symptoms and all warrant a call to your doctor or trip to the office or emergency room.

• A seizure typically characterized by a rhythmic jerking motion of some part of the body. There are many causes for this including a head injury or high fever. Immediately after a seizure, a child will be very difficult to arouse. You should always notify your doctor if you think your child has had a seizure. Or call 911 if the seizure lasts for more than two or three minutes.

• Head injuries are very common in children. The most important time for monitoring a child with a recent head injury is four hours after the accident. Many children will be drowsy and complain of a headache. Occasionally there will be an episode of vomiting after the accident. It is all right to let the child sleep, but awaken them every 30 minutes for four hours after the injury to ensure that they are arousable. If your child loses consciousness, seizes, acts unusual or vomits repeatedly after the injury, call your doctor immediately.

• An accidental ingestion of medication or poison is common in young children and must be addressed immediately. All homes with children should have a phone number for the poison control center near the phone and Ipecac syrup (a medicine that induces vomiting) in the medicine cabinet. If your child ingests something, call poison control, not your physician, immediately. They will tell you whether to induce vomiting with the Ipecac syrup and if there is a need to see your physician or go to the local emergency room.

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