Saturday, September 3, 2016
As a parent, you know your children better than anyone, which can mean you can quickly spot when they’re upset, feeling unwell or on the verge of a tantrum or outburst. However, there are some symptoms that your child may display that may not be as obvious as the rash that comes with chicken pox, or the projectile vomiting that a common stomach virus can bring.
Some symptoms for childhood illness can manifest themselves in more subtle and unusual ways that even the most intuitive parent may not pick up on. These symptoms can easily be dismissed as mundane behaviour or your child simply playing up and vying for attention. While there may be some truth to both of these behaviours, you should always be mindful of changes in your children’s behaviour and look out for symptoms that something more serious could be afoot.
Common symptoms to keep on top of
In many instances, particularly with very young children, they can’t verbally express how they feel like we would as adults, which is why a lot of times children who aren’t feeling well resort to misbehaviour or tantrums to get attention.
Many of these symptoms are common illnesses that can be easily treated at home. For example, raised temperatures, common colds, stomach aches, sore throats, runny noses, sickness and diarrhoea and mild coughs don’t require a GP visit unless the symptoms are prolonged or severe. They can usually be treated with children’s paracetamol to lower temperatures, inflammation and pain. Also ensuring children stay hydrated and encouraging them to eat will help the recovery process.
Children are surprisingly resilient and usually bounce back much quicker than adults. Having said that, if your child isn’t getting any better with home treatment you should seek medical advice.
Another easy to treat symptom you may see in your child is an itchy scalp, which could mean head lice. These can be tackled with a specialised detection comb that can be bought from a pharmacy, as well as over-the-counter lotions and sprays.
Also, don’t forget to watch out for chicken pox. This is common in children under 10, but does affect older children too if they haven’t had it and is contagious. The early signs are flu-like symptoms and a mild temperature followed by itchy, red spots on the body. Treat with doses of paracetamol and calamine lotion to help soothe the itching.
Serious symptoms to watch out for
While the above symptoms will generally be a mild bout of illness which should subside relatively quickly, there are other symptoms which could be indications of a more serious health concern. They may manifest themselves subtly at first, perhaps with tiredness, grumpiness or misbehaviour, but this could just be the beginning of something more severe.
For example, if your child begins to show signs of unusual tiredness or fatigue and sleeping more than usual, this could be a sign that their body is fighting something that hasn’t become apparent yet. This could be anything from a viral infection to something more serious. Keep an eye on their sleep patterns and additional symptoms and if they don’t improve you should speak to your GP.
Other conditions that need medical treatment are skin infections such as impetigo and ringworm, which are both contagious and need prescribed treatments to reduce the incubation time and risk of the infection spreading to others.
Another symptom you should be mindful of is any respiratory problems. If your child has a persistent cough, severe sore throat, breathlessness, difficulty breathing or swallowing these could be signs of a more serious health concern. Illnesses such as tonsillitis, asthma, whooping cough, croup, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) or allergic reactions, can start with mild symptoms like the common cold, but may develop into more severe symptoms, especially in young children. With any respiratory concerns, see your GP or go straight to A&E, if they are unable to breathe or swallow.
When it comes to children’s health, you can never be too careful. First and foremost, ensuring a healthy, well-balanced diet will help boost their immune system, as well as good hand hygiene to reduce the chances of contamination. It’s also a good idea to avoid contact with others who are known to have a contagious illness where possible. It’s inevitable that children will get sick at some point and it’s an essential part of developing their immune systems, but if you have any serious concerns contact your GP, or take them to the A&E if they are in severe distress.