Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Child Winter Illnesses

Many parents feel unsure about when to be worried about their child’s symptoms, and when to take them to the doctor. We have grouped our questions of the week to cover some of the most common symptoms: Fever, Vomiting/Diarrhoea and Dehydration.

How Should I Care for my Child When They Have Vomiting/Diarrhoea?
If your child is hungry, avoid any food that would be high in fat/sugar, and instead opt for fairly bland food. Obviously maintaining fluids is the most important thing when it comes to a child having vomiting/diarrhoea. Fizzy drinks are a myth when it comes to settling a stomach! Avoid high sugar fluids including juice and instead give your child small sips of water every 5-10 mins as opposed to large amounts at one time. An electroyte replacement fluid called "Pedialyte" is available over-the-counter from your Pharmacist, however speak to your Pharmacist as to whether it is appropriate for the age of your child.

How Should I Treat my Child With a Fever?
Children can throw very high fevers for very mild illnesses. Pamol every 4hrs may help somewhat, but the best way of treating a fever is to cool your child down gradually and not too quickly. Having a tepid bath/shower used to be the advice nurses gave for bringing down a high temperature, but it is now recognised that a cool cloth to shoulders, neck or face is a better approach. Making sure they are dressed in very light clothing and have light blankets on their bed, is important. Often older children will complain that they feel freezing and will want to bundle on blankets and turn on heaters but this will only make their fever much worse. As their temperature drops, so their own body's mechanism for guaging temperature returns to normal. Remember to keep up their fluids with cool drinks, as children can become dehydrated with a temperature. Children who throw a temperature of 40C or who have what is known as 'febrile seizures' need to be seen by a doctor immediately.

What Causes Dehydration and What Are the Signs My Child Is Getting Dehydrated?
Your child can become dehydrated with any of the above conditions (vomiting and fever and especially diarrhoea) so it's important to keep up fluids if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms. Do seek urgent medical attention for your child if you've noticed a significant drop in wet nappies/toileting and if they do come across as very weak, lethargic/drowsy. If you're unsure or concerned, the best course of action to take is to seek medical attention.

For further health information and over-the-phone assessment:
Contact Healthline 0800-611-116

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