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Guest post: Top 5 common childhood illnesses

Today I’m welcoming Marcela De Vivo to guest post here at Bod for tea. Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. Her writing covers everything from marketing, technology, and real estate, but as a mother of a special needs child she has a special interest in health & wellness topics. You can read more about her journey at her blog, Here’s a great round up from her of the top five most common illnesses among children and how to deal with them.

The one thing that is worse than being a sick child is being the parent of that sick child. Often children cannot properly express the symptoms or pain they are feeling, which makes it the parent’s responsibility to take the child to see a physician and try and make sure the experience as least stressful as possible.

There are so many illnesses that children are prone to catch, whether it be from the school yard, playground or even in your own home. Fortunately modern medicine has advanced to the point where many of these conditions, once possibly life-threatening, now do no more than merit a short visit to the doctor’s office, if that.

Here’s a list of the top five most common illnesses among children and some ways to help comfort them when it’s time to take them to see the doc.

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The Common Cold
Your child can catch a cold anywhere. Unfortunately, this is the most common childhood illness aside from the flu. Symptoms are usually runny nose, fatigue, sneezing, congestion and sometimes a light fever.

It may last about a week, but shouldn’t really extend past that time period. Lots of liquids like water, Gatorade and chicken soup are good while your child is resting with a cold. It’s best to make sure your child has lots of tissues on hand for nose blowing so they don’t spread the virus more. Child-friendly paracetamol (known as acetaminophen in the US) like Calpol (UK) or Chuldren’s Tylenol (US) can help to relieve the symptoms. Note: You should always read the instructions on any medication to make sure that you give a child the correct dosage for their age/weight.

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Chicken Pox
Chicken pox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The first symptom is a fever, followed by a very itchy rash that looks like little red dots.

These “pox” turn into blisters full of fluid. They usually last less than a week (4-5 days) and will dry up after that and turn into scabs. This rash spreads very easily and is usually most contagious before the red dot-like rash appears.

Fifth Disease 
Fifth Disease shows up as a rash on the face. It may also appear on your child’s tummy, arms and legs. It is colloquially known as “slapped cheek,” because the scattered rash looks a lot like a slap mark. Fifth’s can feel like the common cold in its early stages. It can also cause joint pain and sometimes be mistaken for arthritis, but this pain disappears within a couple of weeks. According to WebMD, “Up to 20% of children may get the virus before age 5, and up to 60% have had it by age 19.”

Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease
Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease include blisters on the hands and in the mouth, often  accompanied by a fever. Blisters may also show up on your child’s bottom. This disease is caused by a virus that usually plagues schools and daycare centres in the summer and early Autumn/fall seasons. It can be very uncomfortable for your child, but usually goes away by itself within 10 days and is not considered to be serious.

Croup is caused by several viruses called parainfluenza viruses, the same viruses that cause the common cold. It is mostly seen in two year olds, but can affect anyone under the age of six. The main symptom is a nasty cough that sounds like a rough barking – kind of like a seal. Although Croup is rarely very serious, according to WebMD almost 6% of children need to be hospitalized because of it. It usually lasts about one week.

A great way to avoid a lot of childhood illnesses is by getting some of the common vaccinations including: Influenza, HepB, DTap, MMR and Varicella. More information can be found about these and other vaccinations on The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website in the US and in the UK from the National Health Service.

Making A Doctor’s Visit Less Stressful
When a child is sick, they can sometimes get unreasonable. They’re tired but they don’t want to stay in bed; they’re not hungry but they really want some ice cream. They definitely don’t want to go all the way to the doctor’s office, especially if it involves getting a medicine shot. But seeing your doctor is important if you’re worried that a few days of bed-rest and TLC isn’t going to be enough. Here are a few ways that you can put your child at ease to take some of the strain off the trip:

  • Help your child “discover” the examination room: Depending on the child’s age, pretend that you are an explorer who has stumbled upon new treasures. Explain what the scale, stethoscope and blood pressure machines are in a simple way.
  • Bring a blanket, books or toys. Little pieces of home will help your child feel normal as they sit undressed waiting for the doctor in an inevitably cold room. 
  • Smile! Don’t act nervous – or your child will be. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to ease tension. You could also try singing a song to pass the time. This will also help in creating a calm, happy atmosphere. 
  • Distract them. Hold them in your lap if they need a medicine shot and keep their eyes off their arm or wherever they’re getting it. This can make the entire experience a lot less scary. 
  • Bring fun bandages. They make all kinds of kid-friendly band-aids/plasters nowadays that can probably easily be found at your local pharmacy and not all doctors have them.
  • Treat your child after the visit. Especially if your child is on his or her best behaviour or has been especially brave – treat them to ice cream, a new book or toy, or anything special you think they would like.

Do you have any remedies for common childhood illnesses?

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