First Aid Advice For Common Childhood Illnesses

Childhood Illnesses

Table of Contents

What Are The Most Common Childhood Illnesses

There are hundreds of childhood illnesses, viruses, and bacterial infections that children are exposed to throughout the course of their school life that spread easily in the often-overcrowded classroom environment. 

The most common are chickenpox (varicella), whooping cough (pertussis) and measles, mumps, rubella. Strep throat, middle ear infections, German measles, croup, worms, meningococcal, meningitis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, the ever-popular hand, foot and mouth disease and slapped cheek disease.

Rotavirus is also widespread among pre-schoolers. The common cold and influenza virus strains can lead to more serious complications in the young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. And now in 2022, we have the additional COVID-19 virus and its many variants to contend with.

What Measures Prevent Common Childhood Illnesses

Ultimately you cannot prevent children from contracting childhood illnesses. You can take precautions for some of the more prevalent diseases, like vaccinations for MMR, Chicken Pox, Polio, Rubella, and the list goes on, but for your everyday viruses, it is inevitable that your child will be exposed and display symptoms of having been infected with any or all of the usual suspects.

The good news is that exposing children to pathogens and viruses at a young age in most cases builds strong, healthy immune systems that everyone needs to quickly get on top of any pathogens and viruses invading our bodies. The problem is not your child getting a childhood illness but knowing the signs and symptoms of each illness and when they are exceeding the normal range and require professional assessment and treatment.

 Common Childhood Illnesses Signs And Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms all children display when they are unwell seem to be the same no matter what the cause of their illness.

·        Fever and high temperature

·        General irritability, lethargy, tiredness

·        Sore throats, losing voice, sounding croaky

·        Pain in the ear, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, barking cough

·        Sensitivity to light, rashes, bruises, or spots appearing on the body

·        Itching and scratching is a obvious sign for head lice and worms

·        Vomiting, diarrhoea, refusing to eat

·        Convulsions, twitching, fainting,

·        Stating they feel unwell, or not right, it hurts

Common Childhood Illnesses And Exclusion Periods

What is an exclusion period in childcare?

Exclusion periods are a length of time that a person with a specific disease or condition might be contagious to others. To stop the person infecting others while they are in the infectious stage, schools will issue an exclusion period the child is to remain at home. 

The amount of time will depend on the specific cause of their illness. Non-exclusion means there is no significant risk of transmitting an infection to others. A person who is not excluded may still need to stay at home if he or she feels they do not have any symptoms yet and were exposed to a known source of infection as a safety precaution. 

Come illnesses have Mandatory isolation requirements due to the highly infectious nature of the pathogen, like COVID-19, Chicken Pox, Mumps, Gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, and conjunctivitis to name a few.  To establish what if any exclusion period your unwell child needs, you may need to seek medical assessment and tests to identify exactly what illness your child has contracted. 

Treating An Unwell Child For Childhood Illnesses

Children tend to display the signs of being unwell towards the end of a school day into the night of initial infection and then the following morning symptoms will begin to develop over the course of the days to come.

Look out for signs of illness in your children to identify any problems early. The best way to do this is by looking at your child’s behaviour. A healthy child will continue doing normal things like eating and sleeping, while an unhealthy one won’t have much appetite or sleep properly with periods where they wake up feeling restless, overheated, or achy.

Take your child’s temperature and check the lymph nodes in their throat and armpits for swelling.    If they have a temperature, then immediately give the prescribed dose of Panadol or other temperature reducing medication prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Ice packs at the back of the neck may help to rapidly reduce the temperature but keep a close eye on them and measure temperature regularly, remove the ice pack when the temperature falls below 38 degrees.

Arrange an appointment with their doctor for an examination and assessment as soon as possible after discovering their illness, if the illness gets worse, or after forty-two hours if their symptoms have not gotten worse but have not gotten better.

If the child is of an age they understand, explain the illness and its treatment, give clear and honest answers to all questions in an age-appropriate manner.

In most cases, the best way to help your child recover is to allow them to rest at home since this will help their body fight the illness. Offer your child ample amounts of fluids to avoid dehydration. If they don’t want to drink water, ice blocks or soup are good alternatives.

When Do I Call And Ambulance

You should call an ambulance if your child:

·        is very drowsy or unresponsive

·        persistent unrelenting coughing (whooping cough)

·        has pale, mottled or blue skin

·        is not breathing (start age-appropriate CPR)

·        has a fit or seizure, or their pupils are fixed and dilated.

·        has a rash that doesn’t fade after you press gently on the child’s skin

·        has high-pitched, weak, or continuous crying

·        has difficulty breathing or unusual breathing and is struggling to breathe

·        Complains of sharp pain in the stomach that hurts more when the pressure is released than when pushed on or when walking, see appendicitis signs and symptoms.

First Aid Courses

Taking an accredited First Aid course will equip you with the skills you need to save a life and recognise potential emergency situations. Take our FACE Blog page First Aid Quiz. See what level of First Aid knowledge you currently have and the areas you need to improve as you peruse our Blog page topics and expand your First Aid knowledge.

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