Throughout their young years, children are susceptible to a variety of illnesses. Recognizing the symptoms of some of the most common ailments alerts parents to the need for intervention or medical attention.
Ear Infections – If allergies, bacterial or viral infections occur, the Eustachian tubes in the middle ear swell and fill with fluid and mucus. In children, the tubes are short, which increases the likelihood of irritation, as the tubes do not drain normally. When an ear infection or irritation develops, children often complain of discomfort. Some may develop a fever. Very young children may pull at the affected ear or cry for no apparent reason. Youngsters might also become restless, lose their appetite and have trouble hearing. Health care providers typically evaluate both ears and prescribe eardrops, oral antibiotics or acetaminophen.
Croup – The condition entails inflammation of the upper airway. Croup may occur following a cold, the flu or other upper respiratory infection. The ailment might also appear without prior illness. Telltale symptoms include a distinct barking-like cough. The child may also sound hoarse, especially when crying. Under most circumstances, health care providers consider croup a mild illness. However, parents must monitor the condition closely. Children often benefit from taking acetaminophen along with breathing in cool mist from a humidifier, the steam from a hot shower running in a bathroom, or the cool night air during colder months. If symptoms do not begin resolving, seek medical attention. Physicians may prescribe steroids that reduce inflammation and antibiotics if necessary. Youngsters may also require inhaled breathing treatments, oxygen and hospitalization.
Cold Sores – When coming down with a cold or the flu, children might occasionally develop cold sores or fever blisters on the lips, cheek or chin. A lesion might also erupt inside one or both nostrils. These lesions are contagious and require good hygiene to prevent the spread of infection. Though unsightly and a cause for discomfort, the sores generally disappear in about one week. Topical, over-the-counter healing oils preparations often help ease the dis-comfort; otherwise the lesions require no medical intervention. If the sores do not heal within 10 days, the child has frequent outbreaks, or if the child develops other systematic symptoms, consult with a physician.
Impetigo – Staph or Strep infections may appear as clusters of blisters around the mouth or on the face, similar to cold sores. However, the blisters typically rupture, oozing fluid that dries and forms yellowish-brown crusts. Highly contagious, the lesions often itch. However, coming in contact with the fluid spreads the infection. Physicians often treat the ailment with a topical antibiotic ointment. If the child has systemic symptoms, they may also receive oral antibiotics.
Ringworm – Sometimes confused with impetigo, ringworm is not a worm but a type of fungal infection. The lesion may first look similar to a pimple, which becomes reddened and scaly. The name comes from the fact that the patch may evolve into a circular, red ring with a clear center. Ringworm may occur on the face, the scalp or other bodily areas. The fungus responsible for the infection often resides in soil, comes from a pet or another person. Affected children should avoid sharing bedding, clothing or personal care products. Health care providers often prescribe topical preparations as treatment.
Though children receive many different vaccinations that prevent a host of serious ailments, illness will occur. Parents help minimize the severity of a problem by keeping informed and taking action when necessary.