5 Common Childhood Illnesses and The Treatments Associated
Children get sick a lot for the simple reason that their immune systems aren’t yet fully developed. A child hasn’t been exposed to as many germs as an adult, so they haven’t built up the immunity an adult has. While there are vaccines for some childhood illnesses, scientists haven’t yet developed vaccines for others. Fortunately, there are ways to treat a sick child or at least make them feel better. Consider the following five common examples:
1) Common Cold
The common cold is aptly named, for small children can have as many as six to ten colds per year. Older children don’t have as many, for their immune systems are more developed. Colds are caused by viruses that attack the upper respiratory system, and there are several hundred types. Most colds run their course in about ten days.
Antibiotics only work on bacteria, so they do not help people with colds. In fact, there is currently no cure for a cold. There are, however, treatments that can make the young patient more comfortable. Steam, for example, can help ease congestion, while gargling with warm salt water can soothe a sore throat. Over-the-counter-drugs like acetaminophen can relieve pain. The child should also get plenty of rest and all the fluids they can drink.
2) Pink Eye
Pink eye, more formally known as conjunctivitis, is an irritation of the inner lining of the eyelid and the eye. It can cause itching, sensitivity to light, increased discharge or tearing, redness, and burning. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens or other irritants, so the treatment will depend on the cause. You will thus have to take your child to the doctor so they can determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
In younger children, a bacterial infection is the most common cause, and the doctor will prescribe antibiotic eyedrops. Cold packs and artificial tears can make the child more comfortable by relieving inflammation and dryness.
3) Stomach Flu
Stomach flu isn’t really a type of influenza. More correctly known as gastroenteritis, it is typically caused by a virus. Unfortunately, that means antibiotics won’t help and there are no specific treatments.
A stomach bug’s symptoms can include stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and cramps. Stomach flu generally runs its course within a few days.
The main treatments for stomach flu are keeping the child rested and hydrated. Give them fluids and popsicles to prevent dehydration. The child, understandably, probably won’t feel like eating at their sickest. Give them small amounts of bland food like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and gelatin that they can easily keep down. Don’t give them spicy or fried food. Encourage the child to try Greek yogurt, which is less sugary than regular yogurt and contains probiotics that promote good gut bacteria.
4) Ear Infections
Ear infections are most common in children under two years old. They are generally bacterial or viral infections triggered by a cold or allergy that causes a growth of bacteria in the middle ear. Ear infections can cause earaches and fever. In more severe cases, they can also cause trouble hearing.
Give the child an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for 12 to 24 hours to help with the pain. Consult a doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. If the earache is caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Don’t put drops or Q-Tips in the child’s ear unless the doctor advises doing so.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects 10 percent of infants and children. Most patients start to develop symptoms during their first five years. Eczema takes the form of an itchy rash that starts on the face, elbows, and/or knees and then spreads to other areas like behind the ears or on the scalp. While the rash can go away, it always comes back. Fortunately, eczema is not contagious.
Cool baths can soothe the itching. Apply a moisturizer after the bath, for dry skin can trigger eczema or make it worse. Don’t use bubble baths or anything containing perfume, for they can irritate the skin. Soap can dry out the skin, so use it sparingly. Give the child soft clothing made from fabrics like cotton that breathe.
The doctor may recommend a variety of treatments including corticosteroid ointments or creams, antihistamines for itching, and tar preparations. If the child develops a skin infection, the doctor can recommend antibiotics.