Make sure you know what to do if your child is ill over Christmas - 20 December 2018

Bay Health and Care Partners are urging those looking after children over Christmas to make sure they know about common illnesses so they know what to do if a child is unwell.

Winter illnesses are circulating so it’s important that parents and carers are ready to deal with common childhood illnesses, such as coughs and colds so their family can enjoy the festive period.

Ensuring you have a well-stocked medicine cupboard is essential, with items such as pain relief, cough medicine, oral rehydration sachets and a first aid kit.

The most common illness for a child at this time of year is a cold. Symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, coughing, sore throat and red, watery eyes. Sometimes there are other symptoms such as chills, aches and mild fever.

Flu is another illness which is around at this time of year and so it’s important that children aged two to eight are vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. Many people think that flu is like a bad cold, but symptoms include a sudden fever, chills and shakes, fatigue, aching muscles, a cough, nausea and vomiting. If your child is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill and your GP practice is closed, call NHS 111 for advice.

During the winter months, asthma may be triggered by cold weather, so parents and carers of asthmatic children should be extra-vigilant about them taking their regular medications and should keep rescue inhalers handy and in a warm place. If you go out, make sure your child is wearing a scarf wrapped loosely over their nose and mouth- this will help to warm up the air before it is breathed in.

Many illnesses can be avoided by good hygiene so make sure your child washes their hands regularly - particularly after going to the toilet and before eating, to help reduce the spread of germs. Washing also lowers the risk of vomiting and diarrhoea known as norovirus.

Dr Andy Knox, Director of Population Health and Engagement across Morecambe Bay said: “Christmas is an exciting time for children, and the last thing anybody wants is for their child to be poorly. Help to reduce their risk of becoming unwell by encouraging good hand hygiene and getting them vaccinated against flu.

“If they do become ill over the festive period, there is plenty of advice available on the NHS Choices website, by calling NHS 111 or by visiting your local pharmacist. Many over-the-counter medicines can help with minor illnesses and so we are advising anyone who will be looking after children this Christmas to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet.”

If your child needs urgent medical attention call your usual out-of-hours GP services, go to your local emergency department or dial 999.

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

bettercaretogether@mbht.nhs.uk

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