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Signs Of Serious Illness In Children

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Spotting signs of serious illness in children can be difficult for parents. This article covers what health professionals should tell parents to look for and when to call an ambulance.

Serious childhood illnesses can present in many ways, so knowing what symptoms to look out for is essential to ensure the child gets the correct help. Parents should be told to trust their instincts, so if they are worried that there is something seriously wrong with their child, it is better to quickly seek medical help than to wait.

As a medical professional, you should check the following warning signs with a parent that may indicate a serious illness:

High temperature: 

Alertness and irritability:

Breathing issues:

The child is having difficulty breathing, with the following symptoms;

Skin colour and appearance:

Other signs to look for:

Parents should be advised to get medical help as soon as possible if their child displays any of the above serious signs of illness. Parents should be advised to call their local GP practice, NHS 111 or take their child to their nearest accident and emergency centre.

When to call an ambulance

Parents should call 999 for an ambulance if their child:

Healthcare professionals should reassure parents to trust their instincts. They will know when something isn't right with their child, and they display worrying behaviour. 

PDUK provides professional training courses and practical workshops for healthcare providers and medical practitioners such as nurses, clinicians and allied healthcare workers. We highly recommend the following course in minor paediatric illness.

P01 Paediatric minor illness: Online 

The RCN Centre has accredited this course for Professional Accreditation. This online course focuses on childhood minor illnesses from infancy to late teens.

The course is aimed at first-line health providers such as advanced nurse practitioners, nurse practitioners, school nurses, practice nurses, health visitors, and allied health professionals.

This course is ideal for healthcare practitioners who are already confident in history-taking and physical examination skills. This course will enable participants to explore a variety of paediatric conditions in an evidence-based context and be able to share their real-life experiences and build on their knowledge and expertise. 

Note: Course pre-requisite- competency in history taking and physical examination skills.

Course participants will gain skills in the following:

The course runs from 10:00 am- 4:30 pm, and all equipment, course materials, evaluation and certificate of attendance are included.