Children have not yet developed their body’s natural defences and therefore are far more prone to infections from bacteria and viruses than adults. As a result children often get sick. Most of the time there is no need to worry however a child that is unwell must be watched carefully as they can get worse very quickly. As a parent it is important to be diligent and understand the warning signs because unlike adults children don’t understand they are poorly.
Healthy children are usually active and alert whilst a sick child will be more withdrawn than normal. They can be cranky, sleepy, and more in demand of your attention and affection than normal. They often lose their appetite.
- General symptoms of a sick child are fever, pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, cough , headache and rash. For specific symptoms of common illness in children have a look at our easy reference table.
- When a child is running a fever they will have a raised temperature (above 37°C). This is an indication your child is fighting an infection, either viral or bacterial. Monitor any changes by taking a regular temperature reading with the thermometer.
- Children’s pain can be from sore ears, teething, headache or injury. Sore throats, runny noses, coughs and headache may also cause distress so it can be helpful to talk to your local Haven Pharmacist about your child’s symptoms .
Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Vomiting and diarrhoea is more serious for a child than an adult because they are at higher risk of dehydration due to losing fluids from their bodies. A Haven Pharmacist can help you treat and manage these symptoms or advise referral if necessary.
- If your child still has pain or a fever(39°C or more) after 24 hours
- Regular vomiting for over 24 hours
- Vomiting and diarrhoea together
- More than two very loose, smelly bowel motions in a day
- Refuses two or more regular daily meals/feeds
- Rubbing or tugging ear , crying or grizzling or has runny discharge coming from the ear
- On going cough or wheeze, breathing more quickly than normal or grunting
- Difficulty waking the child
- Seizure or fit
- Unusually floppy or pale
- Develops a rash or stiff neck
|Signs and symptoms||Time from initial infection to the first signs of illness||How long is your child infectious (taking special precautions, keeping your child out of school and away from other children)||Managing your child during illness|
||13-17 days||For up to 5 days before the rash appears to roughly 7 days after when the blisters have dried up.||
||About 12-25 days (usually days 16-18)||One week before till 9 days after symptoms appear||
||10-12 days||From the first day of illness until 4 days after the rash appears
Other children who have not had measles or been immunised should be immunised within 24hours
||2-10 days, usually day 3-4||24 hours after starting antibiotics – your child is not infectious
However people who have been in contact with your child in the last 10 days will also need treatment
||The onset of symptoms can be gradual starting in the nose and then rapidly over 12-48 hours to fever and the rest of the symptoms||For three days after the illness begins or until the fever is gone||
|Rash appears 12 – 48 hours after onset of fever
Day 1 – 2: white coat over the tongue
Day 4 – 5: white coat disappears revealing raspberry tongue
|24 hours after your child has been treated with antibiotics – your child is not infectious||
Find out more about childhood illnesses from your local Haven Pharmacist.