Children are little explorers, eager to touch, taste, and play with everything they encounter. However, this curiosity also puts them at risk of contracting various childhood illnesses. As a parent, understanding these illnesses, their symptoms, risks, and preventive measures can be your best defence.
Why Are Children More Susceptible?
Children’s immune systems are still developing, making them more vulnerable to infections. Schools and daycares are hotspots for illnesses due to close contact among kids. Some children, such as those with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions, are at an increased risk of developing childhood illnesses.
Common Childhood Illnesses
- Common Cold: With symptoms like runny nose, congestion, and mild fever, the common cold is often a child’s first brush with illnesses. According to the CDC, kids have about 8-10 colds in the first two years of their life.
- Chickenpox: Marked by an itchy rash of red spots and blisters, chickenpox used to be a common childhood disease. However, vaccination has dramatically reduced its incidence.
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD): This highly contagious disease presents as fever, sore throat, and rash on the hands and feet.
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): RSV can lead to serious conditions like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in babies under one year. Symptoms include runny nose with slightly thick clear discharge, coughing sneezing, and decreased appetite.
- Measles: Despite a highly effective vaccine, measles remains a concern. It begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, followed by a rash of tiny, red spots and could be severe.
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis): Characterized by severe coughing that ends in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. It is most serious for babies under a year old. The DTaP vaccine, which also protects against diphtheria and tetanus, can prevent this.
Home Remedies and Treatments
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can help manage symptoms like fever and pain. However, ensure proper rest and hydration for your child.
Key OTC Medications:
- Paracetamol: Reduces fever and pain. Adhere to dosage guidelines based on age and weight to prevent liver issues.
- Ibuprofen: Suitable for children over six months; it reduces fever, pain, and inflammation. Correct dosage is crucial.
- Antihistamines: Relieve itching and runny nose but can cause drowsiness.
- Cough medicines: Offer relief from coughs, but always ensure age appropriateness.
Always be cautious with medications for children. Avoid aspirin as it can lead to Reye’s syndrome, and refrain from giving cough and cold remedies to those under four. Adhere to the recommended dosages, not exceeding four doses in 24 hours. Consult a healthcare professional before administering OTC medicines to children with chronic issues. Remember, while OTCs alleviate symptoms, they aren’t cures. If symptoms persist or intensify, seek expert advice.
When using OTC medicines for children, it’s vital to be aware of potential side effects, ranging from mild symptoms like drowsiness to more severe reactions. As each medication varies, always carefully read the packaging or accompanying information to fully understand possible side effects and recommended dosages.
When to Seek Professional Help
Seek immediate medical attention if your child has a high or persistent fever, difficulty breathing, severe headache, confusion, persistent vomiting, or shows signs of dehydration like dry lips and infrequent urination.
Some side effects might be expected, but you should always contact a healthcare professional if you are worried, especially if the side effects persist, worsen, or are severe. Remember, children’s bodies handle medications differently than adults do, and what might be a normal side effect for an adult can be serious for a child.
Your Dedicated Healthcare Professionals
At Chase Lodge Hospital, we offer a range of private paediatric services for children of all ages, starting from initial consultation right through to treatment. For advice or treatment on any of the issues listed above, get in touch with us today, and get an appointment booked.