Common Childhood Illnesses:
An illness is defined as an impairment of normal physiological function affecting part or all of an organism. Children get sick easily especially those below the age of 5 years. This is because at this age, their immune systems are not very effective compared to that of an adult or an older child. Also, at this age they are fond of touching everything they come across and putting their hands into their mouths a lot. They also become exposed at this age to school and day care where other kids with contagious illness may be.
It is almost impossible for one to prevent their kids from getting sick, however with proper management and/or medication, these common illnesses can go away quickly.
Some of the most common childhood illnesses include:
1). Cold: Children are prone to catching a cold many times as they grow until they develop an immunity to it.
Symptoms: Sneezing, runny nose, headache, fever, cough.
Prevention and Control: Carefully dispose tissues used by infected persons.
2). Diarrhoea: Caused by a variety of conditions such as a virus, bacteria, parasite etc.
Symptoms: Fever, vomiting, watery stool, abdominal pain.
Mode of spread: Touching areas or surfaces that an infected person was in contact with.
Prevention and Control: Promote safe food handling and preparation practices.
3). Chicken pox: A viral disease caused by Varicella-zoster.
Symptoms: Slight fever, spots or rashes which appear first on the body, face and scalp, then spreads to the limbs.
Mode of spread: Direct contact with fluid from an infected person’s blisters or saliva.
Prevention and Control: Exclude child from school when spots appear until all sores crust over( usually 5 days after onset of blisters)
Vaccination is also available for children over one year of age.
4). Measles: Caused by paramyxovirus.
Symptoms: Fever, inflamed eyes, dry cough, runny nose, red rash, white spots in the mouth.
Mode of spread: Direct contact with an infected person’s nose or throat secretions.
Prevention and Control: Exclude child from school until after 4 days of onset of rash.
Give child lots of fluid.
MMR vaccine is available.
See a physician if symptoms persist.
5). Sore throat: Caused by streptococcal bacteria.
Symptoms: Fever, very sore throat, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, loss of appetite.
Mode of Spread: Close contact with a carrier.
Prevention and Control: Exclude child from school until 24 hours after starting medication or the fever stops.
6). Mumps: Caused by ‘Rubeola’ virus
Symptoms: Fever, headache, inflammation of the salivary glands causing cheeks to swell painfully.
Mode of spread: Direct contact with an infected person’s throat or nose secretions.
Prevention and Control: Exclude child from school till 9 days after onset of swelling.
A mumps vaccine is also available.
7). Pink eye (Conjunctivitis): An infection of the covering of the eyeball and inside of the eyelids.
Symptoms: Teary, red, irritated, itchy swollen eyes with thick yellow discharge.
Mode of spread: Contact with discharge from eyes and nose of an infected person.
Prevention and Control: See a physician and keep child’s hands away from his/her eyes.
8). Ear infection: Common in babies and small children. It often comes after a cold.
Symptoms: Fever, pulling the ears, general discomfort.
Mode of spread: Direct contact with an infected person.
Prevention and Control: See a physician for proper medication.
Generally, parents and kids should take note of good hygiene practices such as:
– Washing hands with soapy water especially after a visit to the toilet.
– Covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing.
– Carefully disposing tissues that infected people have come in contact with.
– Cleaning surroundings with a disinfectant intermittently.
– Preparing and handling food safely.