When should I take my child to a Dr?

With so many viruses around this winter, and children capable of becoming very sick very quickly, what are the HSE guidelines for seeking medical help for your child? The advice is to go to a doctor if your child:

  • Is feeding, eating or drinking much less than normal.
  • Has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration.
  • Is under three months and has a temperature of 38OC or higher.
  • Is older than three months and has a temperature of 39OC or higher.
  • Feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty.
  • Is very tired or irritable.
  • Strep A awareness

    Strep A (Group A streptococcus) has also been a feature of hospitalisations this winter. It is a common bacteria (germ). It is sometimes found in the throat or on the skin without causing any symptoms. It usually causes mild illness like sore throats and skin infections. In rare cases, these bacteria can cause a severe and life-threatening illness called invasive group A streptococcal diseases (iGAS).

    Strep A infections cause symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • High temperature (38oC)
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Minor skin infections
  • Always trust your instincts and call 999 or 112 or go to your local emergency department if you’re worried. For more information, visit https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/strep-a/

    Note: Most people with a high temperature or a sore throat have a virus and not strep A.

    What RSV symptoms should I look out for?

    This winter saw a significant rise in the number of people, especially children, presenting with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and parents are being advised to remain alert for symptoms.

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants, young children and older adults or anyone who is immune compromised. It is also highly contagious. Even after recovery, very young infants and people with weakened immune systems can continue to spread the virus for up to four weeks.

    Most children recover from illness in eight to 15 days. Symptoms can appear between two to eight days after a person is infected and include the following:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough and sometimes croup (a barking cough caused by inflammation of the upper airways)
  • Wheezing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Ear infections (in children)
  • In very young infants, irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties may be the only symptoms of infection.
  • There is no specific treatment for RSV other than treatment of symptoms, ie paracetamol to reduce temperature. However, anyone with severe respiratory illness will require hospitalisation and oxygen therapy and some people will require antivirals.

    Frequent, careful handwashing or use of alcohol-based gels are important measures in preventing the spread of RSV.

    See the HPSC factsheet about RSV.

    Do you know?

  • Smoking rates in Ireland have dropped by eight percentage points from 24% in 2010 (the second largest drop in the EU after Estonia).
  • Professor Luke O’Neill has been appointed to the European Research Council (ERC) Scientific Council (the governing body of the ERC).
  • 1.5 million people attended hospital Emergency Departments in 2021, up 13% on 2020. (Health in Ireland – key trends 2022)
  • Beacon CARE Fertility is the first clinic in Ireland to offer AI technology to assess and predict the quality of a woman’s eggs and their likelihood of achieving a live birth in the future.
  • Reed diffusers can poison children. In 2021 there was an increase in calls to the National Poison Information Centre about this. Diffusers can be toxic if ingested and can also cause skin or eye irritation. See www.poisons.ie
  • Many people are entitled to free dental checkups ?but 70% of people did not claim this in 2021. The Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme (DTBS) is available to those that meet the required number of PRSI contributions. An additional 80,000 people became eligible in 2022 after the minimum threshold was reduced to 39 PRSI contributions for those aged between 25-28 years of age.
  • Sleeping badly? Try these tips

    Sleep quality can affect our mood, our physical health and our mental health so Turn2Me, a national mental health charity, has published these 5 tips on how to improve your sleep.

    1 Exercise: try mind-body exercise such as yoga or pilates or resistance and strength training in the gym. Exercise helps with sleep through its effect on skin temperature.

    2 Mindfulness and meditation: these can help improve quality of sleep and increase sleep time but the advice is to begin slowly as these skills require practice and patience.

    3 Sleep hygiene: avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco before bedtime as well as activities demanding high levels of concentration or high-intensity exercise. Have your bedroom cool, uncluttered and comfortable and avoid tv or tech use in the bedroom.

    4 Sleep diary: this can help you keep note of behaviours that may be helping or hindering your sleep such as diet, activities, lighting etc.

    5 Diet: this can be closely linked with sleep quality as well as mental health. Avoid processed meats and increase your intake of vegetables, fish, fruits, water and fibre.

    Houseplants are good for your health

    Do you love having plants in your home? Well, apart from them being pleasant to look at and great for brightening up your house they could also be good for your health, according to US researchers. That’s because they improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide, filtering pollutants and releasing oxygen. Better air quality can reduce instances of headaches and more moisture in the air can help prevent dry skin.

    Spider plants, for example, were found to remove 95% of toxic formaldehyde from the air in a sealed Plexiglas container over the course of 24 hours. Peace lilies helped remove carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds. Rubber plants did the same so let’s hear it for indoor plants!

    Don’t fret if you’ve forgotten your new year’s resolutions already

    Forgotten your New Year’s resolutions already? Not to worry, says Shane Martin of moodwatchers.com. His advice is to concentrate on what you can do now that will improve your mood.

    1 Go for a quick-paced walk. We spend too much time indoors and too much time in front of screens. Research has continuously shown that exercise lifts mood. Within 20 minutes, major chemical change will take place inside your body that will energise you and make you feel better. You can do this now!

    2 Switch off all technology and start talking to the people in your world. Lie on the ground and play with your child. Chat to your spouse or partner in a way that truly connects you to them. Listen to them properly. Remind yourself that these people are gifts on your life journey.

    3 Think of three things that are good about your life right now. Speak about them openly. Your health. Your secure job. Your gorgeous children. There may be hurt in your life today or in the past but remind yourself in a very deliberate way about what you are blessed with. Can you extend the list to 10? With your partner, family member, child or friend, engage in conversation like this for as long as it takes. Then turn the spotlight on them and help them to see how blessed they are too.

    4 Do something that you really love. As we grow older, many of us give up the things that make us tick. We surrender our hobbies too easily to the rituals of daily living and working. If it’s music that you like, switch it on now. If it’s a movie, then plan a time to watch one. Why not open the lid of the old piano, take the guitar down from the attic or buy yourself a novel? It’s not rocket science but some of the most frustrated people in the world are the people who only eat, drink, work and sleep. There is so much more to life.

    5 Tap into your innate capacity to be kind. Is there someone you know who is lonely? Maybe, someone you know was bereaved during the past year? A neighbour or relative in hospital or a care home? Make contact with them and let that inner kindness within you flow through you. Kindness is its own reward. You will feel the benefits within hours. If you have a child, bring them with you on this kindness journey. Maybe, they could make a get-well card? Let them be a witness to the kindness. It’s the only way they will learn it.

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