Illness In Babies And Young Children

Illness In Babies And Young Children


Babies always seem (to their parents at least) to be suffering from illnesses of varying types. As they get older, and especially when they begin to go to school, they pick up even more infections from their friends.

In many ways, this is desirable, though a nuisance to the parents, and thoroughly uncomfortable for the child.

Most of the common illnesses picked up by children cause few problems at an early age, and because immunity develops to most illnesses after one attack, it should not recur. But if a ‘childhood’ disease like mumps or chickenpox strikes an adult, it can be very severe indeed. Far better to take care of them early in life.

When to call the doctor is usually a problem. Don’t panic. Remember that you know your own child better than anyone else, and be sure that it really is ill before calling the doctor.

Most signs of serious illness are obvious, but some can be confusing. The following are all cause for concern in a young child and should be reported to the doctor:

  • Persistent vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Blood in urine, faeces, or vomit.
  • Epileptic fit lasting more than 10 minutes, or recurring.
  • Bluish lips or tongue. Persistent headache, and obvious discomfort in light. Sudden abdominal pains, with vomiting.
  • Raging thirst, together with very frequent urination. Coughing and fever, with very rapid breathing.
  • Obvious difficulty in breathing.
  • Failure to pass urine for long periods.
  • Head injuries from which the child does not recover in a few minutes.
  • Refusal to take feeds in a baby.

In addition to these warning signs, none of which can be safely ignored, commonsense tells you to call the doctor if a sick child is obviously deteriorating. Respiratory disease and a number of other conditions can develop very rapidly in a young baby. Lesser emergencies can still be very worrying. Earache and toothache are both common causes of emergency calls to the doctor at night. Both are better treated initially with the specified dose of painkiller like aspirin or junior aspirin. There is little your doctor can do for toothache in the middle of the night, and for earache, he will probably prescribe an antibiotic, which you will not be able to obtain until the morning.