Karl Stefanovic revealed the panic that set in when his sniffing daughter, Harper, took him to the emergency room earlier this week.
Like many children this flu season, the two-year-old has been battling coughs and colds since the cold weather arrived.
But within hours, Harper’s symptoms worsened and Karl and his wife Jasmine began to worry.
READ MORE: Why are more children developing serious flu symptoms?
“Within about six hours he had a temperature – We gave him Nurofen and Panadol as suggested and put him to sleep,” said Karl.
But when Harper woke up from his nap, his breath hitched, he was wheezing, his temperature was rising and his heart rate was soaring.
“We took him to our GP, which was brilliant, but within minutes, his condition worsened, his temperature was over 40C, and his heart rate was increasing by over 200 beats per minute,” he said.
Karl said his doctors used a nebuliser to stabilize Harper, but when an ambulance was called to take the little girl to hospital, reality showed how serious her condition was.
He said he and Jasmine felt guilty for not taking Harper straight to the hospital, instead choosing to see a GP.
“When the doctors start to move quickly, you start to get more worried and I think the hardest thing for us was to figure out – we were supposed to take him straight to the hospital, but we took him to the GP,” said Karl.
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But Associate Professor Margie Danchin, a pediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, says with emergency departments currently overwhelmed, parents may not be sure – but there are certain symptoms to monitor before you take the next step.
“We don’t want parents going to the emergency room waiting six to eight hours if they can get to their doctor,” she said.
“If a child has difficulty breathing or bluishness around the lips, or signs of dehydration – if they’re not drinking, if they’re lethargic, pale, those are things that should prompt parents to take their child to the emergency department.
“But if the child has a fever, cough, runny nose, milder respiratory symptoms, then we would encourage them to access community services first.”
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Danchin said since March, there has been a large increase in children with influenza A, with 20 percent requiring hospitalization.
But in the past month, there has been an increase in hospital admissions of children with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which Harper believes has and can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia in extreme cases.
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