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Trust your instincts

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

How do you know when your child is seriously ill? At what point should you seek medical advice? These are the questions I’m asked most often by parents attending my courses.

Babies and young children have immature immune systems that are exposed to lots of bugs in the early years, especially when they start nursery and school. Most children who see a GP are not particularly unwell – but the symptoms of serious conditions are often quite general and hard to spot.

One difficulty is specific to babies and young children – they can’t tell you how they’re feeling. Another is that children often cope quite well with symptoms in the early stages of illness, potentially masking a serious condition.

As a parent myself, I’m only too aware of how quickly children can bounce back from illness. I’ve been the anxious Mum at the surgery, with a child who seems quite unwell but perks up as soon as we see the GP…it’s awkward!

But as a paramedic, I’ve also seen it from the medical perspective - when parents call 999 or NHS 24, and we arrive to find the child’s health improving. I understand this. Medical professionals understand.

My take-home message to parents is simple: trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone else in the world, and you should never feel embarrassed or guilty about seeking medical help or advice. Your actions could save a life.

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