Better Care

Some things that definitely weren’t on the Christmas list...

children in playground
The NHS in Birmingham has issued some useful hints and tips to help your little bundles of joy stay healthy during the winter months.

Children are particularly vulnerable to catching coughs, colds and other common illnesses as temperatures start to fall. But there are some simple measures you can take to keep your children on tip-top form over the festive season.  

A balanced diet is key to boosting a child’s immunity to common winter illnesses like colds or flu so make sure they are eating as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible – particularly at a time of year when there are a lot of treats to tempt them that are far less healthy.

Making sure children wash their hands regularly, particularly after playing or going to the toilet, and before they eat food, will help to reduce the spread of germs and encourage good habits.

Fay Baillie, Director of Nursing for NHS England in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country said, “All children will experience an upset stomach from time to time.

"Encouraging good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of infection. Washing hands regularly should be encouraged as a matter of course, especially after using the toilet or before eating.  If your child is normally healthy and they do get a tummy bug, they won’t need a doctor’s appointment. The best bet for anyone with a dose of sickness and diarrhoea – like norovirus - is to keep them at home, give them plenty of fluids and allow the virus to work its way through their system.

"It is important that anyone with sickness and diarrhoea keeps away from hospitals, schools, or Santa’s grotto for 48 hours after it has stopped, as it can spread really quickly and cause serious problems for some people."

Elaine Meredith, clinical lead for health visiting at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust added: “Youngsters with a long-term health condition should always have a flu vaccination, and for the first time this year healthy two- and three-year-olds are also being offered a flu nasal spray.  Your GP can advise you on whether this is necessary for your child.

“It’s important to remember that parents can always ask a pharmacist (find your nearest one by visiting NHS Choices), or their health visitor, for advice too.  There is also medical help and advice available 24 hours a day for non-emergencies by dialling 111.

"We would urge parents to consider all these options before taking their child to A&E.  For non-urgent health problems, you’re likely to be in for a very long wait at busy times.

“Making sure you’ve got warm coats, hats and gloves so kids can play outside in the cold is essential. But remember that children’s bodies heat up and cool down very quickly, so make sure they are removed straight away when they come indoors, as young children in particular can overheat.

“We all want the right healthcare for our children and, in very many cases, that is available quite close to home - or even at home. Make sure you have stocked up on medicines like your child’s usual pain relief, oral rehydration solution and cough mixture, so that you can help them have a speedy recovery. Make sure medicines are in date and always read the label. A suitable thermometer is useful too, to keep an eye on your child’s temperature.  Fortunately, most children bounce back quickly with a bit of TLC."