Children are more likely to become ill during the first few years of life as their bodies develop immunity against infection.
If you’re a parent, chances are you’re familiar with the top five common childhood illnesses – colds, ear infections, influenza, bronchitis, and gastroenteritis. Children are more likely to become ill during the first few years of life as their bodies develop immunity against infection.
We chat with Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health, on the top childhood illnesses, signs and symptoms, as well as treatment options.
The No. 1 illness that strikes thousands of children worldwide is the common cold. From sniffles to sneezes, colds are an unavoidable part of growing up, with statistics suggesting that colds are the main reason children stay off school. Babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers may get as many as seven to eight colds a year. At school age, they average five to six colds a year, while teens may have as many as four colds a year. Although there is no cure for the common cold, symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medication .
Ear infections are among the most prevalent ailments among children. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults. Bacterial or viral infections can cause ear infections. Oftentimes, ear infections clear up on their own but if your little one is cranky and feverish, a trip to the doctor may be on the cards.
Influenza, sometimes known as the flu, is a virus that spreads quickly among children. Fever, sore throat, weariness, body pains, and chills are signs of this frequent paediatric sickness. The majority of cases are mild and can be treated at home with medication, water, and rest. You can lower your child’s risk of catching the flu by ensuring that everyone in your family receives a flu vaccine each year. Although getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee that your child will not become ill, it does reduce their chance of contracting flu and can help lessen the severity and length of flu symptoms. Vaccinations, check-ups, and other pre-emptive measures can all help prevent childhood illnesses.
Bronchitis is a condition in which the airways in the lungs expand and generate mucus. Coughing, chest pain, weariness, headaches, body aches, and a scratchy throat are symptoms of this condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of bronchitis are caused by a virus that arises after an upper respiratory illness. Children should see a paediatrician if they have a wet cough lasting more than two or three weeks, or have ongoing fevers, daily congestion, difficulty breathing, or experience wheezing.
Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, is a common childhood illness that causes inflammation in the stomach and intestinal tract. Diarrhoea and vomiting are the most typical gastro symptoms, but children may also suffer fever, stomach cramps, body pains, and headaches. Viruses (norovirus and rotavirus), bacteria that cause food poisoning, and parasite diseases can all cause gastro. While gastro is quite common among children, it can be dangerous if it leads to dehydration. Babies and children under the age of five are most at risk of dehydrating, so it’s important to act quickly if your child displays gastro symptoms.
When to take your child to a doctor
Go to your doctor if you notice that your child:
- Has a dry mouth and tongue.
- Has cold extremities
- Is not passing urine (dry nappies).
- Has sunken eyes.
- Has cold hands and feet.
- Has green (bile) or blood in vomit.
- Is more sleepy than usual.