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Ten Childhood Illnesses Every Parent Should Know
By Health Coach ⋅ September 22, 2012 ⋅ Post a comment
Now that kids have gone back to school, parents can begin preparing for the germs they will bring back home. Even taking every conceivable precaution, parents would have an easier time convincing the sun to shine a little less brightly than trying to keep kids away from infectious germs. While vaccinations have helped to drive some childhood illnesses to the brink of extinction, many other forms of disease remain a constant factor. These illnesses can range from common infections to the more bizarre. Here are ten childhood illnesses every parent needs to know.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, ranks as the leading cause of bronchioltis, an inflammation of the small airways, and pneumonia in infants. An RSV infection starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, fever and cough. Roughly 40 percent of children with an RSV infection will begin to wheeze noticeably. However, only about two percent of children will require hospitalization due to the virus. When children get older, the affects of RSV tend to become milder.
Younger children are more likely to develop an ear infection due to the small size of their Eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the ears to the throat, and can become blocked due to inflammation triggered by a cold. Fluid then becomes trapped behind the eardrum, inside the middle ear, which allows germs to multiple. Symptoms of an ear infection in small children can manifest as fussiness, fever, or tugging at the ears. Fortunately, most infections are triggered by viruses that will eventually go away on their own. Certain vaccinations can help prevent infections from forming, so be sure to consult your pediatricians if you have any questions.
Following an upper respiratory infection or acute ear infection, fluid can begin to buildup in the middle ear, a symptom referred to as OME or otitis media with effusion. Usually the fluid will drain on its own over a few weeks, however, when the fluid continues to linger in the middle ear or becomes glue-like (hence the name), it can begin to impair a child’s hearing. Your pediatrician many need to place tubes into a child’s ear to allow the fluid to drain.
A cough reminiscent of a seal’s bark is the telltale sign of croup, a respiratory illness caused by viral inflammation. While the cough makes the illness sound more menacing, croup will generally clear up on its own in a week. However, if a child’s breathing becomes labored, hospital treatment may be required. Children under five are the most likely to develop croup.
Known clinically as conjunctivitis, pinkeye causes a variety of symptoms, including redness, itching, tearing, and crusty eyelashes. Usually caused by cold viruses, pinkeye can spread quickly among groups of children through contact. Due to the difficulty determining between the viral and bacteria forms of conjunctivitis, doctors will generally prescribe antibacterial eye drops to any child with pinkeye. Usually cases of pinkeye clear up within a week.
Once a part of every young child’s life, chickenpox can now be prevented through vaccination. Getting a child vaccinated against chickenpox will not only save them from the maddeningly uncomfortable blisters, but it will also protect them and others from the dangerous complications the virus can have in adults, infants, and pregnant women. Prior to the development of a vaccine, 11,000 Americans a year visited the hospital due to chickenpox.
Another disease nearly wiped out thanks to vaccinations, an outbreak of measles among vaccinated children has never been reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. However, the disease does still popup among unvaccinated kids. Measles begins with a flu-like symptoms. As these begin to fade, a full-body rash will develop that will last for roughly two weeks.
Named after the “whoop” sound a child makes as they inhale sharply, whooping cough causes children to cough so hard they lose all breath in their lungs. An infection of pertussis, the clinical terms for the disease, is especially dangerous in infants and may necessitate hospitalization. Since antibiotics have little affect on the disease, vaccination against whopping cough is essential.
Kids will get the occasional sore throat from time to time, usually from a cold. But if your child doesn’t feature a runny nose or sneezing, than they might be experiencing a strep infection. Symptoms of strep generally include a sore throat that lasts over a week, trouble swallowing, pain while swallowing, rash, pus in the throat, or a fever over 100 degrees. If your child has strep, the virus needs to be treated with antibiotics.
A skin infection caused by a fungus, ringworm has absolutely nothing to do with worms. The infection can cause a red, flaky ring on the skin or patches of hair loss on the head. The fungus spreads easily, so children should avoid sharing towels, brushes, combs, and clothes. Ringworm is generally treated using a antifungal medication.
Timothy Lemke writes about children’s health for Dr. Lance Bailey, a dentist in Portland at Downtown Dental Care.
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