By Julia Headland
At this time of the year, colds and other viruses are rife and are extremely common in places like school and nurseries. Children’s immune systems are immature and added to this, children play in close contact with each other making it easier for infections to be passed on (GOV.UK 2019). If your child has a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above, it is advisable to keep your child away from nursery or preschool as this will increase the likelihood of spreading the virus to other children and staff, some of whom may be more vulnerable to infections.
Symptoms of Colds in Children
- tickle in the throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- sore throat
- mild fever
- aching muscles
- pressure in the ears or face
- loss of taste or smell
- loss of appetite
- yellow or green mucus from the nose
A child may also have behavioural changes to add to this such as sleep disturbances or becoming more clingy than normal to their care giver.
Easing the Symptoms of a Cold in Children
*keep your child hydrated by giving them plenty of fluids
*use saline nose drops to help loosen a blocked nose
*use a humidifier in the bedroom or alternatively put a bowl of water near the radiator (out of the child’s reach)
*If your child has a fever, pain or discomfort, children’s paracetamol can help ease the symptoms
* if your child is blocked up, you can run the shower and sit in the bathroom wit your child away from the shower but allowing the steam to help with unblocking the nose.
*encourage the family to wash hands regularly to prevent the spread of the cold.
NB- Children under the age of 6 years old should NOT have over the counter cough and cold remedies, including decongestants unless advised by a GP or pharmacist (NHS 2019)
Sickness and Diarrhoea (Gastroenteritis)
This is quite timely as it is quite common at this time of the year and it seems that there have already been a few cases at the nursery lately so it may be something that you may come across. Hopefully if you take the preventative measures described below, you will minimise the risk of catching it yourselves.
What is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is a very common condition caused by either a virus or a bacteria and results in diarrhoea or vomiting. It is very unpleasant but usually clears up within a week. It is particularly common in young children and is mostly caused by a virus called rotavirus. When adults get it, it is usually caused by the norovirus (the winter vomiting bug) or by a bacterial food poisoning (NHS 2017).
If you do get this, it is advised that you don’t visit your GP because it is a highly contagious condition that spreads easily. Call NHS 111 if you are at all concerned or need advice.
Gastroenteritis is very easily spread from person to person.
You can catch the infection if small particles of vomit or poo from an infected person get into your mouth such as through:
*close contact with someone who has gastroenteritis – they may breathe out small particles of vomit
*touching contaminated surfaces or objects
*eating contaminated food- this can happen if an infected person doesn’t wash their hands before handling food or if food is eaten that has been in contact with infected objects or surfaces. It may also happen if food is not stored or cooked at the correct temperatures.
What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
- sudden, watery diarrhoea
- feeling sick
- Vomiting, sometimes projectile
- mild fever
- Some people may also get symptoms such as stomach pain, aching limbs or a headache
What can I do to ease the symptoms?
Unfortunately there is no cure for gastroenteritis but you can ease the symptoms to make you or your child more comfortable.
* Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. It is important to try and drink more fluids than usual to replace the lost fluid from diarrhoea and vomiting. Water is of course the best but you could also try juice or soup.
* Take paracetamol for any aches or pains
* Get plenty of rest
* If you do feel like you want to eat, try and eat plain food such as bread, pasta, soup or rice.
* You could try special rehydration sachets (such as diarrolyte) to replace any lost fluids.
* You could take an anti sickness tablet such as metoclopramide or and anti diarrhoeal medication such as loperamide (ask your pharmacist).
* Make sure you wash your hands regularly when you are ill.
* Stay off work or your child off from nursery for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have cleared as you will still be contagious.
Risks of Gastroenteritis in Children
Babies and young children, especially if they are less than a year old have a greater risk of being dehydrated so it is really important to try and get fluids down them.
Call nhs 111 or your GP of you are concerned about your child or if they:
- Have symptoms of dehydration such as passing less urine than normal, are being unusually irritable, have pale or mottled skin or cold hands or feet.
- Have blood in their poo or green vomit
- Are vomiting constantly and are unable to keep any fluids or feeds down.
- Have had diarrhoea for more than a week
- Have been vomiting for more than 3 days
- Have signs of a more severe illness, such as a high fever 38C or 100.4F), shortness of breath, rapid breathing, a stiff neck, a rash that doesn’t fade when you roll a glass over it or a bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on a baby’s head)
- Have a serious underlying medical condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or a weak immune system. (NHS 2017)