Home Children and Young People Spotting the symptoms of severe respiratory infection in children
Graphic with when to contact your GP or NHS 111

Spotting the symptoms of severe respiratory infection in children

by Sandra Issar

Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe respiratory infection in their children, with cases higher than usual for this time of year.

Symptoms of severe respiratory infection in children, include a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever), a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).

While respiratory infections are common in children, last winter saw much fewer infections in younger people due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that many will not have developed immunity and may be at higher risk of severe illness. We may also see more cases than in a typical season.

For the majority of children, these illnesses will not be serious, and they will soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

When to contact your GP or NHS 111

Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but parents should contact their GP or call NHS 111 if:

  • Their child struggles to breath.
  • Their child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last 2 or 3 feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
  • The child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.

Some children under 2, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can suffer more serious consequences from these common respiratory infections.

Cllr Christine Bannon, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health, said:

“RSV is a common virus causing colds and coughs but can be more severe in some children. Right now cases are higher than usual for this time of year as COVID-19 restrictions ease and children mix more. It’s important parents know about the symptoms and you should contact your GP or NHS 111 if concerned.”

More information about symptoms and what to do is available from the NHS.