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A baby or young child has a much lower immunity to common diseases such as diarrhoea, flu and cold. Hence, as parents, knowing what the symptoms of some of the common childhood illness and how to deal with them is essential.

 

Remember too, that besides being prone to falling sick, children are also more prone to injury. In the process of climbing, walking, jumping and exploring, they may cause injury to themselves if they are not careful.

 

Parents will thus need to be mindful of potential safety hazards around the house and how to prevent and deal with injuries.

 

Below is a guide to some of the common childhood illnesses:

 

IllnessSymptomsTreatment
Common Cold
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Blocked nose or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Visit your doctor if the child has ongoing high fever, breathing difficulties, stiff neck or intense headache
  • Give your child plenty of water
  • Consider using nasal spray or drops to alleviate blocked or runny nose
Cough
  • Similar to a cold
  • Look for signs of whooping cough, croup, bronchiolitis or pneumonia
  • Cough may be dry or may be accompanied by mucous

 

  • Give your child more water
  • See a doctor if symptoms persist
Whooping Cough
  • Initial symptoms are similar to a common cold.
  • Coughing spasm can last for a minute or more.
  • Characteristic "whooping" sound as the child tries to draw breath.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Face may turn red or blue
  • May vomit after an attack.
  •  Seek medical advice
 Croup
  • General cold symptoms at first
  • Coughing sounds like a seal
  • Hoarse voice
  • Breathing is noisy.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High fever and drooling
  • See your doctor if you suspect croup.
  • If it is a severe attack call an ambulance.
Chicken Pox
  • Fever, sore throat and headache.
  • Skin rash over the body, with small blisters surrounded by pink areas.
  • After about 5 days, blisters will slowly burst and form scabs.
  • See a doctor for medicine and topical cream to relief itch.
  • Cool baths and compresses
Sore Eyes (Conjunctivitis)
  • Eyes appear bloodshot, and feels itchy
  • May have white or yellow discharge from the eyes
  • See a doctor for treatment
  • Bathe the eye from the outside towards the nose using a sterile cloth or fresh cotton wool and dab bed with saline solution
  • Wash hands with soap after each treatment.
Dehydration
  • Listless and lethargic
  • Urine output is decreased
  • Skin will remain gathered after being pinched
  • Dry mouth with increased thirst
  • May occur as a result of vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Seek urgent medical attention.
  • Try to maintain or increase the intake of fluids
  • Give electrolyte solution
Diarrhoea
  • Cramp and abdominal pain.
  • Loose bowel motions.
  • Frequent and watery motions
  • Possible dehydration
  • See a doctor for treatment
  • Wash hands frequently to prevent spreading the infection
  • Continue to breastfeed and maintain intake of fluids for older children
Ear infection
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • See a doctor for treatment
  • Warm compress on the ear to relieve symptoms
Fever
  • Temperature rises above 37.5oC
  • Baby may feel hot or shiver.
  • Rapid rise in temperature or prolonged high fever may cause fever fits
  • Remove excess layers of clothing.
  • Increase fluids
  • Seek medical advice if the fever persists, or your child has difficulty breathing or is unresponsive.
Fits
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Body becomes stiff or floppy.
  • Body starts twitching.
  • Remove anything that may cause injury.
  • Stay with your child and seek medical help at once.
  • Call an ambulance if your child remains unconscious after the fit or has repeated fits or difficulty breathing
Flu (Influenza)
  • High Fever
  • Chills and sweating
  • Headache
  • Weak and tired
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Give your child more fluids
  • Visit your doctor if your child has ongoing high fever, breathing difficulties, headache or stiff neck
Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Severe headache
  • High pitched cry
  • Fever
  • Stiff or painful neck
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Severe aches or pain in the muscles
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seek urgent medical assistance
Rubella (German Measles)
  • Mild fever
  • Mild rash on body, neck and face.
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Headache, cough, cold
  • Seek urgent medical assistance
  • Prevention through immunisation is recommended


Child Safety at home

 

Prevention is better than cure, to minimise the chances of injury, take steps to prevent your child from getting hurt by observing the following rules:

 

A child or baby may fall off the bed or furniture, slip in the bathroom and trip himself over toys and other objects.

 

Never leave babies or small children alone on beds, changing tables or furniture, and near open windows.

 

Use safety gates to block off access to the stairs or kitchen, and make it a point to pick up items on the floor that may cause the child to trip and fall.

 

Ensure that any slippery carpets or rugs are secured with a rubber mat underneath them.

 

Preventing scalds and burns

 

Scalds and burns tend to happen in the kitchen, so never allow children to play near or in the kitchen and use safety gates to block off access to the area.

 

Make sure the handles of your pots are turned towards the back of the stove and beyond the reach of your child and be careful not to open the oven or microwave door when your child is nearby.

 

Keep candles, lighters and matches away from your child’s reach and teach him or her not to play with fire.

 

Avoid putting hot soups, food or beverages at the edge of the table or counter tops which can be easily pulled off by children.

 

Preventing drowning

 

The majority of home drownings occur in the bathtub and in pools. Hence, you should never leave your child alone in the bathroom.

 

A child can drown even in a small pail of water, hence make sure pails are covered securely if they are used to store water.

 

Make sure bathroom mats are non-slip to prevent tripping and accidental drowning in bathtubs.

 

Preventing suffocation and choking

 

Children often put things that they find into their mouths. Make it a point to keep small items off the floor and out of a child's reach.

 

Avoid giving your child small, hard candy which may cause him or her to choke and suffocate.

 

Phone cords and cords from window blinds should be securely tied and kept out of a child's reach as these may cause strangulation.

 

Preventing Poisoning

 

Children are curious may mistake pills for candy or colourful washing liquids for juices.

 

To help prevent accidental poisoning, never refer to medicine as sweets or your child may try and eat one when you are not looking.

 

Store medicine and washing liquids, insecticides and other toxic substances under lock and key and away from your child’s reach.

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