My child is unwell, when should I seek further help?

No guide can be complete. If you are still worried about your child after reading the information on our website then you should get advice.

This could be telephone advice or a consultation with a doctor or nurse at the surgery. Telephone advice is also available from NHS 111.

If you feel that it is an emergency you should dial 999 for an ambulance.

  • Your child is drowsy or irritable. Although children with a temperature are often more sleepy, irritable and lacking interest than usual, they usually improve after treatment with paracetamol and / or Ibuprofen. If they do not improve, or if they are very drowsy indeed, they should see a doctor urgently
  • Your child has problems breathing – including rapid breathing and being short of breath or ’working hard’ to breath. It sometimes looks as though the tissues between the ribs and below the ribs get sucked in each time they breath. Any child who has a lot of difficulty breathing needs to see a doctor urgently.
  • Cold or discoloured hands or feet with a warm body
  • Severe arm and/or leg pains (for no obvious reason)
  • Unusual skin colour (pale, blue or dusky around lips)
  • High temperature (40 C or higher) (not necessarily a sign of serious infection, but if the temperature does not come down with treatment or your child has other features on this list then you should seek help).
  • An infant who is not feeding or any child that is showing signs of dehydration
  • A cough lasting more than 3 weeks (or sooner if becoming breathless more easily or there is a family history of asthma).
  • A fever for 24 hours or more with no other sign of infection (cough, runny nose, earache etc.)
  • Your child loses weight and does not re-gain it within two weeks in an under 5 year old, or within four weeks in an older child.
  • GLASS TEST: A rash that does not fade under pressure will still be visible when the side of a clear glass is pressed firmly against the skin

This information comes from the “When should I worry leaflet?”