Top 5 Illnesses Most Likely To Strike After Hours

  • Parents Only

Last month ellaslist told you about the great service offered to parents with children who get sick after hours  – 13SICK, National Home Doctor Service. 13SICK send a doctor to your home on weeknights and weekends, when you need a doctor urgently (but it’s not a life-threatening emergency). It’s a bulk billed service that really helps young families – especially because kids are always getting sick at night and on the weekend, when GP Practices are closed. Having a sick child is hard at any time…but it’s so much harder on the weekends or at night.

So, what are the illnesses that doctors commonly treat in the after hours?

Acute respiratory infections

Especially in the winter months, children are prone to catch respiratory infections. These include coughs, colds, influenza, infections of the throat, tonsils, middle ear or chest, and croup and whooping cough, many of which are caused by contagious viruses. Symptoms for all these illnesses can be very similar: runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, temperature and headache. The doctor will assess the symptoms – and may prescribe antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. Antibiotics, however, are no use against viruses.


Ear ache

One complication of respiratory infections can be acute otitis media (middle ear infection), a painful complaint which often occurs at night. This is particularly common in babies and children under five years old, and among children in indigenous communities. It is important not to neglect treatment of otitis media to avoid damage to the ear drum. The 13SICK home doctor will diagnose the problem and in severe cases provide treatment in the form of strong analgesia (pain relief) and antibiotics (if required). The doctor will generally recommend a follow up appointment with the child’s usual GP.

Skin infections and rashes

Skin infections and rashes among children can have many causes, ranging from bacterial or fungal infections, to infectious diseases such as chicken pox, to allergic reactions. Many skin complaints, such as impetigo (“school sores”) or staph infections can be treated by the child’s usual GP, but worried parents will often call the after hours doctor when they are concerned about an unexplained rash and their child is feverish or unwell.  

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections are very common in babies and young children, and can be difficult to diagnose, as the infant is unable to describe their symptoms to a doctor. Symptoms include high temperature, irritability, loss of appetite and lethargy. Their wee may be cloudy or smelly, and they may have pains in their tummy or lower back. If left untreated, UTIs can make your child seriously ill, so be sure and consult a doctor, or in the after hours, call 13SICK.


Gastroenteritis (or ‘gastro’) is an illness affecting the digestive tract. It is mainly caused by viruses, and can be highly contagious, spreading quickly around a childcare centre for example. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, fever and lack of appetite. The main risk of gastro is dehydration, so it is important for patients to keep up fluids, particularly babies and young children. Hygiene and handwashing are key in preventing the spread of gastro illness, and it is best to keep patients at home (away from school, work or childcare) while they are sick.


These are just five of the most common illnesses that strike children in the after hours. For these urgent, but not life threatening illnesses, instead of taking the child to hospital, parents and carers can call 13SICK and arrange a home doctor visit. With a bulk billed, after hours doctor home visit you can get the treatment your child needs - without the trip to Emergency.

If you or a loved one needs urgent medical care and your GP is closed, call 13SICK (13 7425) or use the 13SICK App (download here) to book a bulk billed, after hours, doctor home visit.