5 Symptoms a Pediatrician Wants You to Watch Out for This Year

After a year of mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing, there is a silver lining: Kids are healthier than ever, says Dr. Allie Effron, pediatrician and co-founder of Greater Cleveland Pediatrics. (Woohoo!) But there are still five important symptoms parents should never ignore, she tells us. From stomach pains to itchy eyes, here’s what Dr. Effron wants you to watch out for this year.

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1. A Rash

Your kid has had approximately two billion rashes since she was born. Those pink bumps on her stomach are nothing to stress about…right? Actually, it’s best to get any rash checked out to rule out viral illness, Dr. Effron tells us. “I have been seeing a number of kids with typical viral rashes, despite all of the infection control measures everyone has taken this year,” she says. “Why? Because many of these viruses are spread by asymptomatic, healthy adults who may have first been infected with these viruses decades earlier!” So even if your kid has been doing virtual school and social distancing, there’s a chance your kids could still get a viral rash like roseola or hand, foot and mouth disease. The good news? These viral illnesses are rarely dangerous and typically go away on their own.

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2. An Upset Stomach

Another common bug to watch out for? The infamous Norovirus, aka the Winter Vomiting Bug. “Norovirus is spread through close contact with infected individuals, as well as contact with contaminated food and surfaces,” says Dr. Effron. We’re not going to lie: the symptoms of Norovirus—vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps—aren’t exactly pleasant. But the good news is that they usually clear up in a few days with no treatment. “We always monitor for dehydration in kids, however, so if there is any concern for decreased urine, pallor, lethargy or cool extremities, please seek care with your pediatrician.”

3. Coughing

If you notice a rumble in your child’s chest when they’re breathing or coughing, it could be a symptom of any number of illnesses. Viruses or respiratory infections could trigger wheezing, but so can changes in weather, animal dander, smoke, pollen, some fragrances and even stress, Dr. Effron explains. Regardless of the cause, wheezing is a symptom to take seriously. “If your child has wheezing, frequent dry cough or labored breathing, it’s time for a medical evaluation,” she says.

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4. Eye Redness And Discharge

Have a kid in daycare? Keep an eye out for pink eye. Medically known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is usually caused by viruses or bacteria. “It spreads easily, so even limited contact with an infected individual can lead to a new case of conjunctivitis,” says Dr. Effron. “Watch closely for red eyes without drainage, however, especially if accompanied by a fever.” Rarely, eye irritation can also be a symptom of more ominous disease processes, such as MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children), a serious complication of COVID-19 illness in children, she adds. So it’s extra important to get a diagnosis confirmed with your doc.

5. Limping

“While illness visits are decreasing this year, many pediatricians are seeing a higher number of visits related to injuries,” says Dr. Effron, noting that popular outdoor activities like skiing and skateboarding have increased the tally. “In young or other non-verbal children, limping may be the only sign of a significant injury,” she adds. “More rarely, limping can even be related to infection like viruses or bacteria, so I always recommend an in-person evaluation if you notice an abnormal gait at home.”

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Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.