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Common Childhood Illnesses

Posted Oct 09 2010 3:51am

As parents, you do whatever you can to keep your children safe from sharp edges, toxic chemicals, moving vehicles and dangerous foods. While child-proofing your home is a good way to start, it won't protect your child from catching germs in the air or that are transferred through touch. While some illnesses can actually boost your child's immune system, some are extremely harmful and potentially fatal. Below are some of the common child-illnesses every parent should be aware about and some treatment and prevention tips.

The Chicken Pox is a highly contagious virus that can be transmitted via the air or saliva if an infected person sneezes, coughs, or shares food or drinks. You can also catch the virus if you are exposed to the fluid from a chickenpox blister. After you have had chickenpox, you usually will not get it again. However, the virus can stay dominant in your body long after the symptoms go away. If the virus becomes active again, it can cause the shingles—a different, yet very painful viral infection.

Common Identifier: Itchy red, rash spots and or blisters all over the body.

Symptoms: Initially you may think your child has a cold because a fever, headache and or sore throat are usually common. Your child may also feel achy, tired and experience a loss of appetite. The itchy red bumps will appear about 1 or 2 days after the initial symptoms. Take note that some children develop a rash without ever experiencing a fever or any of the other early symptoms. After the rash appears, it usually takes about 1 to 2 days for the spots to manifest through all its stages, including blistering, bursting, drying, and crusting. New red spots are known to develop every day, for up to 5 to 7 days. Once all the spots have been crusted over, your child may return back to school. This can takes up to 10 days.

Vaccination: The Centers for Disease and Prevention advises that your child receive a chicken pox vaccine at age one. This vaccine will not prevent your child from ever getting the chicken pox, but it will make the disease less severe. While the Chicken pox usually will clear up without complications in healthy children, it can cause issues for pregnant women, newborns and those with a weak immune system.

Treatment: Lots and lots of rest. To relieve itch and prevent scaring, apply chamomile lotion on bumps or let your child take an oatmeal bath.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus called rubeola. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of 10 children that develop measles also tend to get an ear infection; and up to one out of 20 develop pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die the Center states.

Common Identifier: Blotchy rash all over the body; Koplik’s spots: Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth.

Symptoms: Typically, measles starts off with a mild fever, coughing, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat. Usually two or three days after the initial symptoms, tiny white spots may be found present inside of your child's mouth. Around the third or fourth day, a rash will appear usually on a child's face, starting around the hairline. It will later spread to the rest of the body. The rash is usually not itchy, but once it appears, children may experience fevers as high as 104 degrees. After about a week, the fever, along with the rash, will fade.

Vaccination: To prevent Measles, t he Centers for Disease and Prevention suggests giving your child two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine—the first at 12 to 15 months, and the second at 4 to 6 years of age.

Treatment: Because there is no specific medication to cure Measles, a combination of rest, medications to reduce-fever are best to speed-up recovery.

This highly contagious disease can be transmitted from the sneezing, coughing or saliva of an infected person. In rare cases it can cause deafness, tender testicles for pubescent males, or inflammation of breasts and ovaries in pubescent females. It is also very rare, but mumps can result in fatality, causing inflammation of the brain.

Common Identifier: Painful swelling between the ear and the jaw or under the tongue or chin. Swollen cheeks are most common.

Symptoms: According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, up to half of people who catch the mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and thus are unaware that they are even infected. But like most illnesses, flu-like symptoms such as a fever, a reduced appetite, abdominal pain, fatigue a stiff neck, and or headache are common. While a child with mumps can have any of the symptoms mentioned above, they can also have tender tonsils, experiencing pain while chewing or swallowing, or have pain in their facial area. Symptoms usually go away with 1 to 2 weeks.

Vaccination: The Centers for Disease and Prevention advises that children around 12-15 months old take the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine to prevent mumps. The center also suggests giving a second dose of the vaccine when your child is 4-6 years old.

Treatment: Currently, there is no specific treatment for mumps; however rest is known to speed up recovery. Hospitalization may be required for some instances, but it is more than unlikely.

This illness, also known as also pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It can last for months and commonly affects infants and young children. This disease is known to cause many fatalities, especially in babies. It is generally passed through coughing or sneezing.

Common Identifier: Uncontrollable, violent coughing, causing severe respiratory issues.

Symptoms: Early symptoms usually last one to two weeks and may include a runny nose, a fever, watery eyes and a mild cough. This is when your child is the most contagious. As the disease advances, your child will experience vomiting and intense-coughing fits, which often causes extreme exhaustion. These coughing fits can last up to 10 weeks or more, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.

Vaccination: Best way to prevent whooping cough is have your child vaccinated with the DTaP.

Treatment: Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics; however it used primarily to prevent the spread of infection. If taking care of your child at home, using a clean, cool mist vaporizer to help soothe your child's cough and keeping your home free from smoke, dust, and chemical fumes that can induce coughing is highly recommended. Keeping your child hydrated is also best. To prevent the whooping cough, have your child wash their hands frequently and have them stay clear from any other children or adult was a bad cough.


This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools . She welcomes your comments at her email Id: .

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