School holidays are here – time to swot up on basic illnesses
Parents and carers across Pennine Lancashire are being reminded to make sure they know how to deal with common childhood winter illnesses as the cold weather continues.
Winter illnesses are on the rise during the festive period and with limited GP appointments, parents and carers are being asked to make sure they know how to deal with common childhood illnesses which are likely to arise over the Christmas break.
Dr Aliya Bhat a GP clinical lead for children at NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
“All parents worry when their child is poorly, it’s natural, but most of the time childhood illness can be managed at home with advice from your pharmacist and lots of rest. If you are a parent, or the guardian of a child you are looking after children over Christmas, please make sure you are stocked-up on basic medicines as well as ensuring you have stock of any regular medication your child may be prescribed.
“Colds and bugs can be managed with pain relief, oral rehydration solution and cough mixture. It’s also worth having a thermometer at home to check your child’s temperature. If your child has an upset tummy or flu it’s best to keep them away from the elderly and other children who can be vulnerable to infection. Children should learn good hygiene early and be encouraged to wash their hands regularly, particularly after playing, going to the toilet and before eating.
“There is an excellent interactive electronic childhood illness booklet available to download on both Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire CCG websites should your child fall ill. Complaints such as, ‘my throat hurts’ and ‘my nose is blocked’, are more than likely the sign of a cold. Children can get as many as 10 colds over winter. Symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy and/or runny nose, a scratchy sore throat and red, watery eyes. Other signs include chills, aches, a mild fever and swollen lymph glands. Colds can be tough to spot in infants, so look for changes in breathing, eating, and sleeping patterns. Your local pharmacy can advise on remedies to help.”
Flu has symptoms such as a sudden fever, usually above 38°C, accompanied by chills and shakes, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. If your child is under two it’s best to see a GP. When your GP surgery is closed ring 111 to speak to the NHS. They can advise you where to go or book an appointment for you with an out of hours doctor if needed. If your child is 2 or 3 or at primary school or in year 7 at secondary school they will have been offered the flu vaccination which is the best protection against flu. Although the flu vaccination cannot protect against Coronavirus, it will help the NHS cope better throughout the winter months – especially if there is another spike on coronavirus cases.
As many of the groups who are vulnerable to flu are also more vulnerable to COVID-19, not only do we want to help protect those most at risk of flu, but we need to protect the health of those who are vulnerable to hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 by ensuring they do not get flu.
If your child suffers from asthma, this can be triggered by cold weather. It’s best to stay indoors on very cold, windy days. If you do go out make sure your child is wearing a scarf over their nose and mouth. Be extra vigilant about them taking their regular medications, and keep rescue inhalers close by and in a warm place.
Also, make sure your child washes their hands regularly, particularly after playing or going to the toilet and before they eat food. This will help to reduce the spread of germs and keep down instances of diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus and coronavirus.
It is important though if you or your child develop a new continuous cough, a high temperature or have lost sense of taste/smell please get tested as these are symptoms of coronavirus.
For information about testing for coronavirus visit: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
Should you require further advice there are different options available to you such as your local pharmacist, NHS 111, 111 online or www.nhs.uk.
For more advice on minor childhood illnesses, visit: https://eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/ci/