Childhood Illnesses – When to call a doctor

During the early years of a childs life children will pick up LOTS of different bugs. Colds, snuffles, high temperatures, sickness bugs, chicken pox and more.

They also have to go through childhood rites of passage like teething, various immunisations, nappy rashes etc. Add in ear infections, coughs, viral infections (which often come with their own rashes) and it can be quite a miserable time for the little people in your life.

But when should you be worried? When do you need to pick up the phone to your doctor, or take a trip to the walk-in centre? And when is calpol and cuddles enough?

It is important to understand the difference between a cough and cold and serious high temperature. There are simple things you can do to manage your child’s illness.

  1. Make sure you keep watch on your child for any changes. Children can go downhill quite quickly so it’s important to stay with them and keep an eye on them.
  2. If they have a temperature try to keep them cool and hydrated and ensure their temperature doesn’t go too high. You can administer liquid suspension paracetamol and ibuprofen alternately (ALWAYS check dosage instructions) to keep temperatures down.
  3. Try and keep them hydrated (especially if they have a stomach bug) with water.
  4. Keep an eye out for any rashes and changes in childs cry or behaviour.

So, when should you ask for help?

  1. If a temperature goes too high and you are struggling to keep it down. Equally if your child is unusually cold
  2. If a child is overly lethargic or becoming unresponsive.
  3. If the child is dehydrated (not going to the toilet, no wet nappies etc)
  4. If the child has a rash, mottled skin and especially if the rash does not go away when you roll a glass over it.
  5. If the child is struggling to breathe.

If any of the above happens you should contact 999 immediately.

If you are simply unsure at any point you can also call your GP or 111 for advice. NEVER think you are wasting a doctors time. They will always take the time to see and treat a small child and it’s better to be safe than sorry.