Why do I do it to myself? I see a story on Facebook and get sucked in not by the article but by the bloody comments! Despite often having plenty to say, I usually manage to exercise some restraint and stop short of joining in. Because you’ll never win. This time it’s about when visiting A&E is inappropriate – or not, specifically in relation to hand, foot, and mouth disease. If you ever find yourself in the position of having to ask yourself whether you should take your child to A&E for HFMD, I don’t envy you. But how serious is hand, foot, and mouth disease, and should you attend hospital?


How Serious is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?

Our health service is grossly, dangerously overstretched. It makes me cautious about using the service unless I feel it’s strictly necessary. And because HFMD is viral, it’s true that very little can be done for those suffering from the hideous disease. And it is hideous.

I know a little bit about it because my 18 month old has just recovered, and let me tell you – it’s one of the nastiest childhood illnesses either of my babies has endured. But did I take Elfin to our GP? No. Because I knew I’d be advised to keep her hydrated and as comfortable as possible while we waited for it to pass, and I didn’t need to waste our precious NHS resources to be told that – it’s common sense.


Should Your Child Attend A&E for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?

So, with this in mind, do I condemn the mother who visited our local A&E concerned about her ten month old who was exhibiting symptoms of HFMD? The same hospital at which I delivered both my daughters; that I’ve been to numerous times for frightening croup and a CMPA diagnosis; the hospital which, despite not always having a fantastic reputation, has never given me cause for concern or complaint?

The same hospital that saved Pixie’s life when she was suffering dehydration shortly after birth?

Of course parents should not be taking their children – not even (especially?) their babies – to A&E for a virus; our hospitals are overstretched resources and simply cannot cope with time-wasters. And yet, for what it’s worth, I applaud the mother – particularly for finding the strength and courage at such a young age to expose the poor attitude of the staff member who ridiculed her.

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How serious is hand, foot, and mouth disease? Babies and young children are very vulnerable to complications arising from viruses. Left untreated, those complications can quickly kill. Secondary infections, dangerously high temperatures, and dehydration are all serious issues which require medical intervention.

I defy any parent who is afraid of what may befall their unwell child if they do not get help, to remain at home with their fingers crossed. It’s foolish and ignorant to cast judgement in the way I saw in those comments, and I urge all parents who suspect a complication of the nature mentioned above to have their child assessed by a medical professional.

You do not take chances with children. Shame on those suggesting a young mother trying to care for her baby was nothing more than a nuisance.


Health and Wellness, Parenting

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

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