Signs and Symptoms of Five Highly Common Childhood Illnesses

Try as you might to prevent it, your child is going to get sick on occasion.

It’s never fun dealing with childhood illnesses. But, if you understand the signs of symptoms of the most common ones, you’ll have an easier time getting your kid the treatment they need to recover as quickly as possible.

Read on to learn more about what these eight highly common childhood illnesses look like.

1. Common Cold

Not surprisingly, one of the most common childhood illnesses is the common cold.

Children under the age of six experience, on average, between six and eight colds per year. Most children deal with colds from September to April, but they can also strike at any other time.

Some of the most recognizable signs of the common cold include:

  • Sore throats
  • Headaches
  • Mild fevers
  • Stuffy/runny noses
  • Loss of appetite

Generally speaking, the best treatment for the common cold is rest and lots of fluids. If your child has a fever, you can also give the acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help lower it. An aspirator or saline drops can help with excess mucus.

Doctors recommend avoiding over-the-counter cold and cough medicines because they’re easy to accidentally overdose.

2. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (also known as pinkeye) occurs when the conjunctiva — the inner eyelid and white part of the eye — becomes infected and inflamed.

Conjunctivitis is caused by many of the same viruses and bacteria that are responsible for colds.

Symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Red/pink color in the white of the eye
  • Discharge
  • Pain or discomfort in or around the eye
  • Swelling
  • Light sensitivity

Pinkeye is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. You can also give your child ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce pain and swelling.

3. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused primarily by enteroviruses. It most commonly affects children who are younger than the age of five, but older kids and adults can also be affected.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease typically isn’t very serious and will go away on its own without medical treatment. But, it’s still important to catch symptoms early since it is highly contagious.

As soon as you notice symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease, pull them out of their school or daycare to minimize their chances of infecting other children.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Blisters or sores in the mouth, on the fingers, palms, soles of the feet, and buttocks
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat

4. RSV

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) most commonly affects the lungs of children aged two and under.

RSV is usually a very mild illness, but if children are born premature or have a compromised immune system, it can quickly become more serious. If left untreated, RSV can turn into bronchiolitis or even pneumonia.

In the beginning, RSV will probably look similar to a common cold. Some more serious symptoms to be aware of, though, include:

  • Wheezing
  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Refusal to drink
  • Lethargy
  • Bluish tinge on the lips or mouth

If your child presents any of these symptoms, call their doctor immediately.

5. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is colloquially referred to as a stomach bug or the stomach flu. It’s caused by a variety of viruses, including norovirus.

Like other viruses, gastroenteritis usually clears up on its own within a week. However, it can cause dehydration in children who have a hard time holding down liquids.

Common symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache or body aches

To prevent dehydration, give your child an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte in addition to water. Don’t give them too many sugary drinks — if that’s all they’ll take, at least water them down.

If your child feels like they can eat, try giving them small amounts of bananas, rice, applesauce, and dry toast. Plain Greek yogurt is also a good option because it is high in probiotics, which promote gut health.

It’s easy to feel helpless when your child is sick. But, if you know what symptoms to watch out for, you’ll be able to prevent severe side effects and get them healthy again in no time.

 

Image courtesy of [Jomphong] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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