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Cayman Parent | Articles | Community | 10 Common Childhood Illnesses

10 Common Childhood Illnesses

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Growing up is a busy time for small bodies; it can sometimes feel like every week brings a new illness! But do not fear – here you will find clear advice on how to identify and treat some of the most common conditions at home, as well as the red flags that mean it’s time to see your paediatrician. − Dr Jasmina Marinova, MRCPCH, MD, paediatrician and neonatal expert at Integra Healthcare

Sore Throat

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Most-often viral and gets better with supportive treatment, although can be caused by bacteria called Streptococcus (Strep Throat), which needs treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. This is uncommon in children under 2 years of age. Can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious illness.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Painful throat
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Reduced oral intake
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen neck glands

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Buy over-the-counter pain relief
  • Feed infants frequently
  • Use a room humidifier
  • Gargle with salt and baking soda (ages 5+)
  • Avoid spicy, salty and acidic food

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • Their fever doesn’t respond to Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, or lasts more than 48 hours
  • Child is not taking fluids and is at risk of dehydration
  • Child is drooling because they are unable to swallow
  • Child is lethargic
  • Your child has had contact with someone with Strep Throat.

Bronchiolitis

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Illness of the respiratory tract in under 2’s that affects the tiny airways and is caused by a virus. The bronchioles become infected and filled with mucus, which makes breathing hard. Infants born premature, those with congenital heart disease are at higher risk.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Shallow and rapid breathing
  • Ribcage retractions
  • Low grade fever
  • Reduced oral intake
  • Vomiting, especially if caused by cough

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Nurse frequently or offer small portions of milk, given often
  • Place a humidifier in the room
  • Administer saline nasal drops
  • Prop up the crib so your baby’s head is higher than their feet

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • Your baby is younger than three months or in a high risk category
  • There is a risk of dehydration
  • The coughing is making your infant choke or short of breath
  • Your baby goes blue around the lips
  • There is reduced urine output
  • Your child is lethargic or irritable.

If your child is struggling significantly with breathing, go straight to George Town ER.

 

Skin Infections

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. Skin gets infected easily if the skin is already affected by a different problem, such as eczema, insect bites, cuts or scrapes. It’s also very common in hot and humid weather.

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Blisters, crusts or little ulcers
  • Patches on hands, feet and other areas of the body, depending on cause
  • Blotches, sometimes with distinct spots within them

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Keep skin clean, especially if there are cuts or scrapes
  • Apply Savlon or other antiseptic cream to cuts to prevent infection
  • Apply hydrocortisone 1% for mosquito bites

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


The challenge facing parents is that there are a great many manifestations and different infections, some of which clear up with basic symptomatic care and others which require specific topical or oral treatments. For instance, impetigo requires treatment with ointment or/and antibiotics. The safest course of action is to visit your paediatrician.

Hand, Foot & Mouth

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Mild, contagious viral infection common in younger children, resulting in sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet.

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Blister-like lesions on tongue and mouth
  • Red rash, sometimes with blistering, on palms, soles of feet and/or buttocks

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Buy over-the-counter pain relief
  • Offer cold drinks and soups
  • Suck on ice cubes (ages 5+)
  • Offer Pedialyte popsicles
  • Avoid spicy, salty and acidic food
  • Take cool baths

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • Fever reaches 38.5°C (101.3°F)
  • You feel that symptomatic relief is needed.

 

 

 

 

Vomiting & Diarrhea

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Usually caused by stomach bug virus, although can be caused by food poisoning. Can also be a symptom of a different illness, such as a urinary tract infection.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Not tolerating fluids and solids and/or loose stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


Keep hydrated by:

  • Frequent nursing (for infants)
  • Offering fluids little and often
  • (Pedialyte, water, diluted apple juice)
  • Avoid solids

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • Your child is not keeping any fluids down and thus at risk of dehydration
  • Their vomit contains blood or bile
  • There is reduced urine output
  • Your child becomes lethargic or restless.

 

Earache

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Typically an infection caused by fluid behind the ear drum (middle ear infection) or an infection of the ear canal (swimmer’s ear). Under 5s are at higher risk of ear infection, especially after or along with upper respiratory tract infection. Occasionally, earache may be due to tooth pain radiating to ear.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Ear pain
  • Pulling or rubbing the ears
  • Fussiness and irritability
  • Fever
  • Reduced oral intake
  • Leakage from ear
  • Redness around or behind ear
  • Reduced hearing

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Administer over-the-counter pain relief
  • Press a warm cloth to the ear
  • Nurse or feed infants frequently (sucking helps reduce pressure in tube between nose and ear)
  • Try to keep the ear dry

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • There is no improvement with Paracetamol (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil) within 48 hours
  • The earache is also associated with fever
  • There is ear pain in both ears
  • There is leakage from ear
  • There is redness and swelling around and behind ear
  • Your child appears unwell and lethargic
  • Your child is off-balance.

 

Eczema

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Eczema is a dry skin condition that can affect children from a very early age, especially those with a family history of eczema, allergies or asthma. It takes time to resolve, but is usually well-controlled through moisturisers and steroid creams.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Dry, rough, red skin
  • Weepy and/or itchy patches
  • In infants, the rash often involves the face
  • In older children, the skin in the creases of the knees and elbows, around the neck and on the hands is particularly affected

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Keep skin moist by applying moisturiser several times a day
  • Avoid irritants to the skin such as soap or fragrances
  • Avoid scratching skin

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • Your child’s eczema gets worse or becomes infected.
  • Please note: persistent skin care is paramount in managing eczema, so make sure you have regular follow-ups with your paediatrician or dermatologist.

 

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

UTI’s are caused by bacteria getting into the urinary tract (bladder or kidneys). Children with congenital abnormalities to the urinary tract are at higher risk. Chronic constipation predisposes children to UTI’s.

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS


Older children:

  • Pain when passing urine
  • Frequent urinating
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wetting accidents in a potty-trained child

Infants can have non-specific symptoms, including irritability, lack of appetite, vomiting, fever or foul or smelly urine.

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Encourage plenty of fluids
  • Avoid constipation with a fibre-rich diet
  • Seek medical assessment

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


Children with UTI’s need to see a doctor, as these infections won’t get better on their own and should be treated with antibiotics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constipation

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Constipation is characterised by having less frequent bowel movements (less than three per week), having hard and difficult-to-pass stools or struggling to open bowels.

COMMON SYMPTOMS


  • Having trouble and pain when going to the toilet
  • Straining when opening bowels
  • Feeling full and bloated
  • Passing small amounts of blood in stool

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME


  • Eat more fibre-rich food
  • Avoid processed food
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Do some active exercise

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…


  • There is no improvement with dietary changes and increases in exercise
  • You are concerned that constipation is going on for too long and starting to affect the general health and wellbeing of your child.

 

Head Injury

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

These occur mostly from bumps and bashes, e.g. falling off a bed, and can be both external to scalp and/or internal, involving the skull, with bruising/bleeding to the brain. Fortunately, most childhood falls or blows to the head cause injury to the scalp only.

COMMON SYMPTOMS

  • Visible external injuries
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability

HOW TO TREAT AT HOME

  • Remain calm yourself to avoid distressing the child
  • Comfort your child
  • Look for external injuries
  • Seek medical assessment

SEE YOUR PAEDIATRICIAN IF…

  • Has fallen from a significant height
  • Loses consciousness
  • Is irritable or will not stop crying
  • Is lethargic and not interested in distraction
  • Vomits
  • Is unable to wake up
  • Is unsteady on their feet.

See or call your paediatrician, or go straight to the ER at George Town Hospital, if you are at all concerned.

 

 

 
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