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Signs of respiratory illnesses in children and when to get help

Posted on August 17th, 2021


Health experts locally are urging parents and carers to be aware of the signs of respiratory illnesses in children with cases higher than usual for this time of year and further increases expected over the winter months. 

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes coughs and colds in winter and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in children under two. In the UK, the RSV season typically begins in the autumn – earlier than the adult flu season – and runs throughout the winter. However, this year we are now seeing this presenting in children much sooner.

Most cases will not be serious, and often the child can be cared for at home with simple measures such as paracetamol, rest and plenty of fluids.

Common symptoms of bronchiolitis are runny nose, a rasping, dry cough, mild increase in temperature. You may also notice them feeding less and making more effort in their breathing.

Most cases will resolve on their own 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 two or three 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

Children under two months of age, those born prematurely and those with underlying health conditions, such as a heart condition, are a higher risk of severe bronchiolitis and parents should consider accessing health advice earlier.

Parents and carers are also advised to dial 999 for an ambulance if:

  • Your baby is having difficulty breathing
  • Your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
  • There are long pauses in your baby’s breathing

There are simple steps you can take to reduce the spread of all viruses:

  • Use tissues to catch coughs or sneezes, bin the used tissues as soon as possible and wash your hands with soap and warm water to kill the germs.
  • Children with flu or bronchiolitis symptoms should stay home and reduce contacts where possible.
  • Particularly avoid close contact with newborn babies, infants born prematurely (before 37 weeks), children under 2 born with heart or lung conditions, and those with weakened immune systems.

Find out more about the symptoms of bronchiolitis and what to do on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/bronchiolitis and children’s health in general here: what0-18.nhs.uk/

You can view a video of Dr Anne Kerr, ED consultant at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust talking about RSV here: youtu.be/3wfMJclHjVM

Content provided by NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). For more information, please visit www.liverpoolccg.nhs.uk.

Published on Tue, 17 Aug 2021 12:14:58 GMT
Modified on Tue, 17 Aug 2021 12:15:30 GMT

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