Children are prone to get sick in their growing stage from infancy to adolescence. And worrying about such sicknesses is part of being a parent. There are certain diseases and infections to which children are very susceptible. Knowing about such ailments can help you keep your child safe by taking appropriate measures. Listed below are some common childhood illnesses:
A brief guide to 12 most common childhood illnesses
1. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV is a common childhood illness which causes difficulties in lung and breathing passage. It is the major cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in kids. The major symptoms are of ‘cold and flu’ i.e. runny nose, cough, wheezing, breathing difficulties, rapid heart breath and fever.
RSV can lead to certain other illnesses. So, diagnosing at the right time is important through physical exams and X-rays. It is a viral infection and therefore contagious. So, it can best be prevented by frequent hand washing.
2. Ear infections
It is one of the most commonly diagnosed problems in young adults in US. Kids have small Eustachian tubes (which connect the ears to throat) which get blocked during cold due to congestion with mucus. This will cause the blockage of normal air filled middle ear with fluid. Along with this fluid will be the bacteria or germ which has entered the tube.
This accumulation of germs leads to middle ear infections. The symptoms are earache and pain during lying down, chewing and sucking. Other symptoms are fever, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Immunizations, hygiene conditions etc are the best preventive measures for ear infections.
Croup is caused by viruses like adenovirus, parainfluenza virus and RSV. It is the inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. The early symptoms are runny nose and fever. But as the infection and inflammation progresses it leads to barking cough or hoarseness during crying. The viral croup is most common among children from 6 months to 3 years. The infection lasts 3-7 days.
4. Pink eye
Pink eye, common name for conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva of eye and inner eyelids. It is caused by many bacteria and viruses which are responsible for other respiratory disorders.
The symptoms are reddening, swelling, tearing and sticky discharge from eyes. It is contagious and spreads easily among kids. It can be best prevented by frequent hand washing, and avoiding contact with infected people and objects.
5. Chicken pox
It is caused by varicella zoster virus. The early symptoms are runny nose, cough and fever. After 2 days, rash and spots begin to appear on the whole body. This takes the form of itchy and scratchy blisters. The best way to prevent your child from chickenpox is getting the vaccination done at the right time.
Mumps is a viral disease that affects many part of the body especially the parotid salivary gland. It is contagious and spreads by coming in contact with saliva of the infected person. The symptoms are headache, fever, loss of appetite pain and swelling in parotid gland, lump in the cheek and pain while eating food. It can be prevented by vaccination. The child suffering from this disease is given measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization.
7. Whooping cough
This disease is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It is an infection of the respiratory tract. The early symptoms are runny nose, sneezing, cough and low fever. After around a weak, coughing spells start which end in whooping. During this coughing period the face of the child may turn from red to purple. Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads through tiny droplets. It can be prevented by pertussis vaccine.
8. Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is caused by a bacterium called streptococcus which produces a scarlet colored rash. The rash starts to appear on face and neck, and then spreads to other part of the body. Other symptoms are sore throat, fever and swollen glands in the neck. It is highly contagious and cannot be prevented easily.
Measles is caused by a virus and is highly contagious among children. The whole body gets covered with rash and the rest of the symptoms are flu-like. Koplik’s spots are a characteristic feature where small red spots with blue centre can appear in the mouth. It can be prevented by the MMR immunization.
Flu or influenza is a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract. Most people confuse it with the common cold. The symptoms are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, dizziness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, ear pain and diarrhea. The symptoms can last up to 5 days. Flu vaccines available in form of shots or nasal mists are best preventive measure.
11. Diarrhea and vomiting
This is one of the common childhood illnesses that affect almost each and every child since the infant stage. It is very concerning for the parents to watch their kids passing watery stools followed by frequent bouts of vomiting. Bacterial and viral infections are common causes of diarrhea and vomiting. If not attended timely, diarrhea and vomiting can leave babies dehydrated.
12. Food allergies:
It is quite normal for any child to suffer from food allergies especially if there is a family history of asthma, eczema, hay fever or lactose intolerance. To check the allergic nature of your child, it is recommended to introduce solid food mainly iron rich foods at 6 months while continuing with breast feeding.
It is not wise to leave out foods like milk, eggs, wheat and nuts just because they are labeled as allergy causing foods. Your child may or may not be allergic to all these food items. Sometimes introducing allergy causing foods before completing 1 year of age may reduce the risk of developing allergy with that specific food.