What do you do when a child in your care is unwell?

Parents and carers in Basildon and Brentwood are being reminded to make sure they know how to deal with common childhood winter illnesses as the cold weather continues.

Young children are more vulnerable to coughs, colds and infections because their immune system is still developing.

An adult may get two to four colds a year but children can get eight to 12 and most of these can be treated at home with over the counter medication and rest.

It can be difficult to know the best way to care for children when they become ill but Dr Sooraj Natarajan, who is the clinical lead for paediatrics at Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “All parents worry when their child is poorly, but most of the time childhood illness can be managed at home with advice from your pharmacist and lots of rest.”

Speak to your local pharmacist as a first point of call. They can advise on the appropriate over the counter medicines that are suitable for your child’s age.

If you continue to have concerns and want to talk to someone, call NHS 111 to speak to one of their trained advisers.

Dr Natarajan, who is GP Principal at the Tile House Surgery in Brentwood, said: “If your child needs more urgent medical attention please call NHS 111. This is also the number to call for out-of-hours GP services locally. If you are worried that your child is very unwell, for example with breathing difficulties, or is floppy and unresponsive, then you should go to A&E or call 999."

Colds and bugs can be managed with pain relief, oral rehydration solution and cough mixture. It’s worth having a thermometer at home to check your child’s temperature. You can check the NHS website (www.nhs.uk) for details on how to care for a child with a high temperature or download the self care fact sheet Fever in Children here

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.

For more advice on staying well this winter www.nhs.uk/staywell

Date: 1 March 2017

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