Child Health

Many common illnesses can be simply treated at home, and will clear up without the need to consult a doctor.

Feverishness in Children

Children often develop a high temperature when they have an infection. Most childhood infections are caused by viruses. They are not helped by antibiotic treatment, but will usually gradually settle over 2 or 3 days. Virus infections may also cause a runny nose, a sore throat, a cough, sickness or diarrhoea. Further advice on those problems is given below.

How to Treat a High Temperature

Give regular paracetamol mixture such as Calpol or Disprol. This soothes the child's aches and pains which often accompany these flu-like illnesses, and it also helps to lower the child's temperature. Use the higher recommended dose for your child's age (given on the bottle), or ask your pharmacist. Repeat dose after 4-6 hours.

Give your child plenty of drinks because the body loses fluid with a fever. Any type of fluid which the child will keep down is okay. Sometimes when small children are unwell they will go back to using a favourite feeding cup or bottle which they had outgrown. If they will not take drinks try jelly, yoghurt, ice lollies, or ice-cream (unless they have sickness or diarrhoea).

Sponge your child down to help lower the temperature. To do this strip the child to the waist in a warm room. Use tepid water - not cold water - and dab it on the child's head, neck, arms and upper body with a sponge or face cloth. Don't dry the water with a towel but let it dry off naturally. As the water evaporates from the skin surface it helps lower the temperature. Your child may not like this being done, but will feel more comfortable afterwards. Sponging can be repeated every 3-4 hours, or more often , if need be.

If your child is very hot avoid excessive clothing or bed clothes and leave their head uncovered. Over-heating a child with a fever can be dangerous because some children under 5 are more liable to have a convulsion if they become overheated.

It does not do any harm to bring a child with a high temperature to the surgery if you are worried that their illness is something other than a typical virus infection.



New born babies bowel motions vary from very soft and frequent (sometimes at every nappy change) to nothing at all for several days at a time - both of these are normal. Breast fed babies are much less likely to develop serious diarrhoea than bottle fed babies.


Give nothing by mouth for the first 2 or 3 hours. · Give a small amount of cooled boiled water, (or very dilute juice) at the first feed - just a very little at a time. Don't give milk or solids at this stage. · If the baby keeps this down, give a larger amount of boiled water (which has cooled) for the next two or three feeds. · When the diarrhoea begins to settle give half strength milk (usual amount of water but only half the amount of powder) for two feeds. · Only return to full strength feeds when the diarrhoea has settled. If the diarrhoea gets worse go back to cooled boiled water again. · If the baby's bottom is sore and red use zinc and castor oil cream or sudocrem, and try to leave the nappy off as much as possible.


  • Stop eating.

  • Take nothing by mouth for the first 2 or 3 hours.

  • After that begin by taking frequent small amounts of water, very dilute juice, or lemonade with the fizz knocked out.

  • Continue taking fluids only until the diarrhoea begins to settle.

  • Patients whose work involves food handling, eg, in shops or restaurants, should have a stool sample sent to the laboratory for analysis.

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