It’s normal for children to become unwell from time to time. Developing their immune systems includes catching a variety of bugs and viruses as they become exposed to them. “It is common to have six to eight colds per year and coughs can unfortunately last a couple of weeks,” says Julie Oh, MD, a paediatrician at the International Medical Centre. “Part of the art of medicine is to determine if it is a bacterial or viral illness and the best type of medicine needed to help the body get better.”
Common illnesses include coughs, congestion, colds, sore throats, headaches, urinary tract infections, bronchiolitis, allergic rhinitis, eczema, conjunctivitis, constipation, and stomach bugs. Occasionally, they will turn out to be more serious illnesses such as ear infections, tonsillitis, croup, strep throat, influenza, pneumonia, and meningitis. But most of the time, these are easily treated at home with lots of rest, fluids, and paracetamol or ibuprofen to bring down fevers and relieve discomfort. “During acute illnesses, it is very important to make sure the child is still acting like themselves, breathing easily, and staying hydrated,” says Dr Oh. Sometimes, they might require a trip to the doctor for further evaluation and medications.
Some less common but contagious diseases to look out for include slapped cheek disease; impetigo; hand, foot, and mouth disease; whooping cough (pertussis); roseola; and glandular fever (also known as mononucleosis or mono). Children may also require treatment for hay fever (allergies), headlice, threadworms (pinworms), and heatstroke.