It’s never too early to get children thinking about how they can stay well and prevent illnesses. As we approach winter, illnesses are more likely to spread and cause infection – particularly among younger people, such as school children.
Nationally, as well as locally, the winter months can be challenging for the NHS, especially for urgent care services. This is why it’s important to spread awareness messages amongst parents of young children (and young children themselves), to help prepare for this period. It is also an opportunity to embed prevention messages to help raise awareness of the benefits of preventative health and self-care generally.
We are planning to launch a competition across schools in south east Essex in order to start getting children to think about how they might stay well this winter. The narrative includes a story about ‘Porl-E’, a nasty germ that causes upset tummies and bad coughs.
We have collated a range of resources below which can help with the competition. They can also help children to learn new ways to help look after themselves and prevent certain illnesses. There are also a number of useful resources for parents/carers.
What's it all about?
The nasty germ, ‘Porl-E’, is trying to spoil Christmas this year by making people unwell by infecting them and causing upset tummies and nasty coughs and colds. We need local children to help us with stories about how they can stay well and prevent ‘Porl-E’ from spoiling Christmas. The more stories we get, the better, so that more people know how we can defeat ‘Porl-E’ this year.
In addition to our wider winter plans, we have also developed an alternative Christmas wish-list for children and parents/guardians of children. This focusses on what children don’t want for Christmas this year. This includes advice for parents/guardians of young children with any of these conditions.
Healthcare professionals came together to provide a guide to three common childhood health ailments that parents can use to self-treat, visit their GP, or call NHS111 and know what to do in an emergency. The three illnesses are:
- Diarrhoea and Vomiting
- Bronchiolitis (not just a cold, but an infection of the lower airways)
- Head Injury
More information about these conditions can be found below.
More about the conditions
Bronchiolitis is a common respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children under a year old. The early symptoms are similar to those of a common cold and include a runny nose and cough.
As it develops, the symptoms of bronchiolitis can include a persistent cough, noisy breathing and difficulty feeding.
Symptoms usually improve after three days and in most cases, the illness isn’t serious. However, contact your GP or health visitor if your child is only able to feed half the normal amount or is struggling to breathe, or if you are generally worried about them.
More information: www.nhs.uk/conditions/bronchiolitis
Sickness and diarrhoea bugs are caught easily and are often passed on in places where there are lots of children.
Feeling sick and suddenly being sick are normally the first signs. Diarrhoea can follow afterward. If your child is not vomiting frequently, is reasonably comfortable in between and you are able to give them frequent small amounts of water, they are less likely to become dehydrated and probably don't need to see a doctor. Speak to your GP if they are unwell for longer than 24 hours or sooner if they are newborn or if you notice signs of dehydration.
If you're breastfeeding, keep on doing so even more frequently. Offer older children plenty of water, or an ice-lolly for them to suck. If they want to eat, give them plain foods like pasta or boiled rice (nothing too rich or salty).
Keep them away from others, especially children, who may pick up an infection. Be extra careful with everyone’s handwashing.
More information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diarrhoea-and-vomiting/
Children have many bangs to the head and it can be difficult to tell whether they are serious or not. Most head injuries are not serious and simply result in a bump or bruise but occasionally head injuries can result in damage to the brain.
One of the signs of a severe head injury is being unusually sleepy; this does not mean you cannot let your child sleep. You need to get medical attention if:
• They are vomiting persistently (more than three times).
• They are complaining it hurts.
• They are less responsive to you.
• Pain is not relieved by paracetamol or ibuprofen.
If they are tired from what’s happened, or from crying, then it is fine to let them sleep. If you are worried in any way about their drowsiness, then you should wake your child an hour after they go to sleep.
More information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/minor-head-injury/