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Common childhood illnesses

image 483Most parents know instinctively when there is something wrong with their child. The child may be listless, refuse to eat or be more clingy than normal. Caring for a sick child can be one of the most stressful experiences the parent of a young child can go through, however most of us have to go through it at some point or the other. Depending on the symptoms and their severity, you may or may not need to see a doctor.

Here are 10 common childhood illnesses:

  1. Colic - refers to a crying spell in babies, usually in the evenings, during which the baby’s face becomes very red and the legs are drawn up to the stomach as if in great pain. It can last from one to three hours and can be very stressful for caregivers.
  2. Common cold – is caused by a virus. It lowers the body’s resistance and can cause further complications such as bronchitis. A blocked nose in a baby can cause feeding problems.
  3. Influenza –is also caused by a virus and can result in secondary infections.
  4. Constipation – Possible symptoms are hard stools, blood in the nappy or underpants and lower abdomen pain.
  5. Diarrhoea – is usually a symptom of another illness and can cause dehydration.
  6. Cradle cap is a crusty, yellowish, skin condition that occurs mainly in babies. It is harmless unless accompanied by red, scaly areas elsewhere on your child’s body.
  7. Chickenpox – is contagious. Possible symptoms include small blisters all over the body, intense itchiness and headache or fever. An optional vaccination is available.
  8. Measles – is very contagious. Possible symptoms include a brownish-red rash, red sore eyes, high fever, and a runny nose. It can be vaccinated against.
  9. Earache – The most common cause of earache is middle ear infection. It could also be a symptom of other illnesses.
  10. Tonsillitis – refers to infection of the tonsils, which protect the body, by trapping and killing bacteria and preventing them from entering the respiratory tract. It is not serious unless it is repeatedly accompanied by infection of the middle ear, which could cause hearing problems.

According to Dr Miriam Stoppard, the UK child expert, the following symptoms warrant immediate medical assistance.

• Temperatures of over 39 degrees C or below 35 degrees C or a temperature of more than 38 degrees C for more than 3 days.
• Convulsions
• Vomiting or diarrhoea for more than 6 hours and/or accompanied by abdomen pain and/or fever
• Blood in stools
• Dizziness, nausea and headaches
• Blurred vision
• Laboured breathing
• Sudden loss of appetite/refusal of all food for a day, for a child with a normally healthy appetite

For emergencies and if in doubt, always consult a doctor.

Click here to visit our Medicine Search page to find Natural Remedies and Products that can help ease the burden of childhood illnesses

Specially written for www.babiesonline.co.za by Sara Essop

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