Friday, August 21, 2009

Common Childhood Illnesses

It's back to school time which for many means trips back to the doctor’s office. If you have a child who attends daycare or school, chances are good they are going to get sick with some common childhood illnesses. So, what are these illnesses? The following is a list of these illnesses (minus the stomach flu because I'm pretty sure we all know what that looks like) and what you should know about them.

  • Chickenpox- This is a virus that can spread easily by an infected person sneezing, coughing, sharing food and beverages or by touching the fluid in the open sores. A person can spread the virus before even knowing they have it. Signs/symptoms of chickenpox are, a fever, headache and sore throat. A red rash usually appears 1-2 days later. After exposure to the illness it usually takes 14-16 days to get the symptoms. When you have it you are no longer contagious once the blisters have all crusted over. People who are generally healthy don’t need to see the doctor and can treat it safely at home with Tylenol or Motrin to relieve the fever and anti-itch cream to help with the itch. There is now a vaccine to help prevent it.

  • Colds/respiratory problems- This is probably the most common childhood illness. There can either be upper respiratory problems (ears, nose, sinuses, and throat) or lower respiratory problems (in the lungs and bronchial tubes). Symptoms are earaches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throats, coughing, and a fever that increases rapidly. With lower respiratory problems you will see difficulty breathing, wheezing, deep coughing, and maybe a fever. Upper respiratory infections are usually viral and you can treat the symptoms but some are bacterial and require and antibiotic like ear infections and strep throat. Consistent hand washing can prevent this illness.

  • Fifths disease– This is also called “slap cheek disease” because you look like you have a slap mark across the face if you have it. This can be spread by coughing and sneezing. Early symptoms are flu like and this is when you are most contagious. Once the rashappears you are no longer contagious. You can view a picture here Not everyone gets the rash or flu like symptoms. This is a virus so there is no need to go to the doctor unless you like to. Treat the flu symptoms.*if you are pregnant you must see your doctor because this disease can cross the placenta barrier and affect the fetus.

  • Pinkeye- This is very common and goes away within 10 days without medical treatment. Symptoms are eye redness (hyperemia), swollen, red eyelids, more tearing than usual, feeling as if something is in the eye, an itching or burning feeling, mild sensitivity to light (photophobia), drainage from the eye. It can be prevented by frequent hand washing. You may need to see the doctor with this one to help determine if it is viral or bacterial. Viral will not need to be treated but bacterial will be.

These are just a few of the common illnesses our children are likely to face. Remember, with viral infections you don’t need to see the doctor and you treat the symptoms at home and with bacterial infections you need an antibiotic. If at any time you feel your child needs to see the doctor than get them in. It is better to be safe than sorry. If your child has a fever keep them home until they have not had a fever for 24 hours.
Please share your thoughts on any of the illnesses or any experiences you may have had with them.

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