Parenthood can be a challenging affair that comes with its share of trials and tribulations. A sudden sickness will test the limits of your endurance and leave you worried and frustrated about the best course of action to treat your child.
Here are some of the most telling signs and symptoms of some common childhood illnesses that you are bound to encounter as a parent.
Respiratory Tract Infections
Common Colds (Nasopharyngitis), Swollen Tonsils (Acute Tonsillopharyngitis) and Sore throats (Strep Throat) are some of the most common respiratory tract infections that can befall your child. The ailments are caused by viruses and bacteria that attack the upper respiratory tract of your child. Common symptoms are congestion in the chest, swollen glands, a runny nose, and coughing.
These ailments generally last from seven to ten days. You can help your child cure their sore throat by giving them warm liquids to drink. You can also give them some lukewarm salt water to gargle at periodic intervals.
We recommend that you abstain from giving your child any antibiotics unless prescribed by a physician for bacterial infections like strep throat, as most of these issues should eventually subside in 5-10 days.
Is your child complaining of frequent ear pain? The pain could be a telling sign of an inflammation or infection in the ear. Ear infections usually manifest in the inner ear canal (Swimmer’s Ear) or middle canal (Otitis Media). Your child can also develop pain (radiating from their ear to lower jaw) as a side effect of a nasty cold or due to the buildup of pressure in their sinuses.
Infections like Otitis media can generally affect children in the first and second year (peaking between month 6 to month 18) and can be attributed to low immunity, exposure to second-hand smoke, and other allergies. We recommend you consult a doctor immediately if you notice symptoms such as prolonged ear pain and loss of hearing.
Children can sometimes have fainting spells at school or at home due to decreased blood flow to their brains (also called Syncope). These spells are usually brief and your child will regain consciousness within a few minutes. Your child can have a fainting spell due to extreme physical (tiredness, exercising in the heat) and emotional stress. Fainting could also be a sign of low blood sugar levels (Hypoglycemia), irregular heartbeats (Arrhythmia) or low red blood cell counts (Anemia). Get a doctor’s examination for Epilepsy if your child suffers from prolonged spells of fainting or seizures.
Skin Infections (Eczema)
Look out for skin problems such as itchy dry skin and red spots around your child's knees during the first two years of your child's birth as they could be signs of Eczema (or Atopic Dermatitis). It is important to prevent your child from excessively scratching their legs when irritated. Avoid irritants such as woollen clothes or harsh soaps as they can strip your child’s skin of natural oils.
Your child might also face fungal skin infections like Diaper Rash (Diaper Dermatitis) due to repeated skin contact with wet diapers, or Pyoderma, a fungal skin infection that manifests itself as scabs and red blisters. These infections will require careful management with topical antifungal creams as directed by a physician.
Abdominal Pain, Diarrhoea, and Vomiting
Stomach pain is another common issue with young children. Your child could have diarrhoea if they make repeated visits to the bathroom (more than thrice a day) and have watery stools. Do note that symptoms contrary to that of diarrhoea (bowel evacuation less than thrice a week) can be a sign of constipation. Prevent these occurrences by ensuring your child maintains good physical hygiene and eats home-cooked food that is rich in fibre (to ease constipation). It is also important to ensure that you regularly deworm your child to prevent any parasitic infections.
In conclusion, simple acts like teaching your children to wash their hands regularly (before meals or after touching a pet) as well as keeping your household germ-free can go a long way in reducing your child's risk of contracting a contagious childhood infection.