Many childhood diseases increase in prevalence during the colder months. We’ve compiled a quick guide to the most common illnesses your child may encounter during the winter, their symptoms, and how to avoid them.
Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. A low-grade fever and body aches may also occur, although these symptoms should be mild. The common cold may linger for a few days or as long as a week and can be treated with lots of rest and fluids. Unfortunately, the average child attending school or daycare will catch a cold as often as 6 to 10 times a year! Doctors recommend that kids with the common cold wait 24 hours after the reduction of their symptoms to return to school.
Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headaches, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Flu symptoms tend to be more severe than the common cold and can last as little as 3 to 5 days or as long as 2 weeks. Some kids (and adults) develop complications that can require hospitalization. Talk to your child’s doctor about medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza (which are most effective within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms). If your child is at risk, you may also want to consider the annual flu shot.
Symptoms include a cough, congestion, fever, runny nose, sneezing, and fussiness or poor feeding in babies. These symptoms typically last about 1 to 2 weeks. While most cases of RSV are mild and mimic the common cold, RSV can become serious and even deadly for young children and infants, developing into more serious conditions like bronchiolitis or pneumonia. In fact, in many parts of the country, RSV is the leading cause of wintertime hospitalizations in children under the age of 2. Seek medical attention for a fever higher than 100.4°F in an infant younger than 3 months or 103°F for a child of any age. Other worrisome symptoms to watch for include trouble breathing, signs of severe dehydration, skin discoloration, and extreme lethargy.
Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, fatigue, white patches inside the throat, swollen lymph nodes, pain when swallowing, and loss of appetite. A case of strep can look and feel like the flu at times, so testing is usually required to confirm. The telltale white patches inside the back of the throat can also help parents and doctors make a diagnosis. Strep throat can last 3 to 10 days and often requires a course of antibiotics to completely clear up the infection. Kids who are taking antibiotics for strep can typically return to school and other activities 12 hours after their first dose (if their fever is gone).
Preventing Childhood Illnesses
The most important ways to prevent the spread of common childhood illnesses are to encourage frequent handwashing and limit your child’s contact with infected people.
In addition, consider getting your child (and other family members) vaccinated against influenza with the annual flu shot.
Most importantly, if your child is sick, don’t become a part of the problem. Please keep them home until symptoms reside and/or their pediatrician has cleared them to go back to school. Meanwhile, you’ll want to increase prevention measures inside your home to prevent the spread of these common childhood illnesses among other family members.
Whether your child is experiencing symptoms of the common cold or the flu, a visit to a local pediatrician can help. Give us a call today for help with diagnosis and treatment.