Keeping your kids healthy can be pretty tricky. It’s hard to tell when something requires a trip to the doctor and what can be treated at home. With that in mind, we’ve gathered five symptoms that can signify something more serious is going on which you shouldn’t ignore. In the event your little one needs surgery, you need pediatric surgeons you can trust. For families in Anchorage, you have Alaska Pediatric Surgery.

Prolonged Abdominal Pain

While a stomach ache typically isn’t too serious — usually connected to constipation or gas — it’s important to keep an eye on how it develops. If your child says the pain is further away from the center of their abdomen, or if the pain is continuous or progressive, it may be the sign of something more serious. If they describe it as a stomach ache on their left side, it is typically constipation. Check in with them through the next couple of days to see what’s going on. If you’re not sure if it is being caused by constipation or gas, call your pediatrician for an appointment. Some other causes of prolonged abdominal pain include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Anxiety
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Cancers

Abnormal Weight Loss

Casual weight loss is normal and not something to be worried about. However, rapid weight loss — defined as when someone loses five percent of their normal body weight within six months to a year — that is abnormal. With younger kids, doctors will look for signs of diabetes when dealing with severe weight loss. A good rule to follow is if your child is losing weight rapidly, around one or two pounds a week, it’s time to call the pediatrician. Abnormal or rapid weight loss can also be a result of other ailments such as:

  • Cancers such as neuroblastoma or leukemia
  • Psychological disorders such as anxiety or ADHD
  • Lung, kidney, and hormonal disorders

Gaining weight is a normal part of childhood development and they should typically gain about four to seven pounds a year until they hit puberty. If this isn’t happening, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician.

Hearing Loss

Most often, hearing loss is a hereditary issue and is detected early, thanks to screening. While hearing loss is most often detected and diagnosed early, a child may lose their hearing later in their life. If your child experiences multiple ear infections — five or six a year — it can lead to hearing issues. That is because multiple ear infections can scar the tympanic membrane, resulting in conductive or sensorineural hearing loss later in life. If medication isn’t working and you’re taking the right precautions — like monitoring volume levels in headphones — there may be fluid in their middle ear. Consult your child’s pediatrician regarding hearing aids, ear wax removal, surgery, and other options to treat hearing and inner ear issues. Other causes of temporary or long-term hearing loss include:

  • Usher’s or Pendred syndrome
  • Antibiotics or antimalarial medications
  • Meningitis

Rapid Hair Loss

People lose 50 to 100 hairs a day on average, though this usually isn’t anything to worry about since those hairs are quickly replaced. However, if your child is losing hair faster than it can be replaced, it can be a sign of something else going on. Rapid hair loss could be genetic or related to conditions like high fever or ringworm. Other possible causes of rapid hair loss include:

  • Scalp trauma from tight braids or ponytails
  • Chemotherapy and blood thinners
  • Alopecia areata, an immune system disease that causes hair loss
  • Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, trichotillomania, and other autoimmune diseases

Extended Fevers

As our body’s way of fighting off infections, a fever is a sign of our immune system doing its job. Normal body temperature can range from 96.5 to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s not until it breaks 100.4 that it is considered a fever. A fever will typically go away after about 48 hours, but if it continues to rise even after medication or other treatment, take them to the pediatrician. An extended fever can be the result of other conditions, such as:

  • Common illnesses like a cold or strep throat
  • Bacterial and viral infections like urinary tract infections or upper respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome

When you’re not sure what’s causing your child’s symptoms, it’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s pediatrician. In the event that surgery is required, go with the pediatric surgeons you can trust. Call Alaska Pediatric Surgery to learn more about our practice.