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Respiratory illnesses in children - what you need to know!

Posted on: 27 August 2021

The local healthcare system is seeing an increase in severe respiratory illness in children as restrictions ease and people mix more, with cases higher than usual for this time of year and further increases expected over winter months.

Parents are encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe respiratory infection in at-risk children, including a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever), a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

While respiratory infections are common in children, last winter saw much fewer infections in younger people due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that many will not have developed immunity and may be at higher risk of severe illness. We may also see more cases than in a typical season.

For most children, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within two to three weeks, but parents should contact their GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • Their child struggles to breathe.
  • Their child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last 2 or 3 feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • The child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.

Some children under two, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences from these common respiratory infections.

The North East London Health and Care Partnership, of which the Care Group is a member, has made a number of resources and support available on their website for parents. The webpage includes leaflets on where to access local emergency services for children and young people, how to manage bronchitis, and how to check for serious symptoms in babies.

For a range of helpful leaflets, further advice, and guidance on how to manage symptoms and when to seek help, click the link below to visit the website.

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