Updated 30 June 2017

The 5 most common childhood illnesses

As a parent if you know the symptoms of the most common childhood illnesses you can catch them before they progress too far.

Children are prone to illness more than adults as their immune systems are still developing. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you get them the right treatment early. 
Ensuring your child has a balanced and varied diet will also keep them healthy and boost their immune system for when they do pick up a bug. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed daily as well as quality fats, wholegrains and lean proteins.

A good, quality multivitamin will cover any nutrients that they might miss in their diet and help to keep their immune system strong for when these common childhood illnesses strike:
1. Common cold: Most children will get up to five colds a year and this is probably the most common reason children miss school. Symptoms include a sore throat, headache, loss of appetite, mild fever and a blocked/ runny nose. Most colds clear up on their own but you can use supplements which contain added zinc, Echinacea and vitamin c which have all been shown to shorten the duration of the cold. 

2. Chickenpox: A contagious illness that causes an itchy rash and red spots all over the body. Symptoms develop about 14 to 16 days after exposure to the virus and include a fever, headache, cough, and a sore throat. The itchy rash appears after the first symptoms start and it can take up to 10 days until a person is no longer contagious. Vitamins believed to be beneficial to those suffering from chicken pox include vitamin B-12, vitamin A with beta carotene, and vitamins D, E, and K.

3. Conjunctivitis: Commonly known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. It is very common in children, mostly because it is highly contagious. It is caused by many of the same bacteria and viruses responsible for colds. Foods rich in Vitamin A and B2 may also be helpful in the treatment of conjunctivitis.

4. Gastroenteritis: A primary cause of diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting most often caused by the rotavirus infection, or from E. coli, or Salmonella, parasites.  Symptoms typically include abdominal cramps but may also include a fever, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. An over-the-counter probiotic can help shorten the duration of the illness and rehydrate drinks will prevent dehydration. 

5. Hand, foot and mouth disease: Primarily caused by enteroviruses. Symptoms include a low-grade fever followed by sores or blisters in the mouth, on the palms, fingers, soles of the feet, and on the buttocks. It is contagious and treatment includes pain medication. Some studies have shown a deficiency in vitamin A can worsen the disease, so eating a diet rich in leafy greens, squashes and liver can help shorten the duration of the illness. 

This article is provided through a sponsorship from Pfizer in the interests of continuous medical education. Notwithstanding Pfizer's sponsorship of this publication, neither Pfizer nor its subsidiary or affiliated companies shall be liable for any damages, claims, liabilities, costs or obligations arising from the misuse of the information provided in this publication.

Readers are advised to consult their health care practitioner for specific information on personal health matters as this is not the intention or purpose of the publication. Specific medical advice or recommendations on the clinical management of patients will not be provided by Pfizer. In this regard Pfizer does not support the use of products for off label indications, nor dosing which falls outside the approved label recommendations and readers must refer to the Package Insert of any product for full prescribing guidelines.

References: Files - CDC/HFMdisease.pdf


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