Some children seem to get every illness that’s doing the rounds, whether that’s a cough or cold, rash or sickness bug.
If this sounds familiar, you’re probably asking, “Why does my child keep getting sick?”
We seek to answer that very question in our article, taking a look at the most common infectious diseases, understanding why they spread and revealing what you can do to protect your child.
What are the most common childhood illnesses?
Chickenpox — this is a very infectious illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The symptoms include itchy red spots that become filled with fluid and burst or crust over, a high temperature and headache. Chickenpox is normally mild but can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and meningitis.
Coughs and colds — your child may get several coughs and colds every year, and not just in the winter months. The symptoms are usually mild and normally don’t require any special treatment; the usual advice is to rest at home unless you are worried about your child’s health.
Influenza (flu) — symptoms of this viral infection include cough, fever, sore throat, headache and fatigue. While some of its symptoms are similar to a cold, flu symptoms are more intense, and the illness tends to last for longer.
COVID-19 — this is another very infectious illness that mutates or changes over time. This means that if you’ve already had one version, you could still get it again. Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, fatigue and changes to sense of taste and smell.
RSV — RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is extremely common, and nearly all children will catch it by the time they have reached three years of age. It’s usually mild and causes a runny nose, cough and fever.
Fifth disease — fifth disease, also known as slapped cheek, is another mild viral illness. One of its symptoms is a rash that looks as if children have been slapped on the cheek. Other symptoms include a slight fever, headache and runny nose.
Hand, foot and mouth disease — this causes blisters in your child’s mouth, on the palms of their hands and on the soles of their feet. It’s highly contagious and is very common in young children.
How do diseases spread?
Childhood illnesses spread in environments where there are lots of children together, for example, at daycare or school.
In younger children, spread is often through saliva, as it’s natural for them to explore the world through their mouths and then share toys and other items.
And many diseases, such as COVID-19, are airborne, so they can be spread in droplets when people cough or sneeze. These droplets may stay in the air or cling to surfaces and then be inhaled by someone else.
The bacteria and viruses that cause disease can also be spread by close bodily contact, such as hugging or kissing your child.
They may also be spread when you handle contaminated faeces (poo), for example, when you change your baby’s nappy.
What can I do to protect my child?
The most effective way to protect your child against getting sick is to vaccinate them against diseases. You can download the National Immunisation Program schedule here to know when their vaccinations are due.
However, many minor illnesses, such as viral infections, don’t have a vaccine. So as well as getting your child’s jabs, make sure you minimise the risk of spreading disease by:
- Ensuring all the family wash their hands with soap and water regularly, for 20 seconds at a time
- Using hand sanitiser that contains at least 70% alcohol in between handwashing
- Encouraging your child to catch coughs and sneezes in the inside of their bent elbow or a tissue
- Making sure tissues are thrown away after use
- Cleaning and disinfecting household surfaces regularly
- Not sharing towels or kitchen utensils such as cutlery
- Keeping your child at home if they show any signs of illness (if you’re not sure about treating them at home, seek advice from a medical professional)
Keeping all the family fit and healthy
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid some childhood illnesses, many of which are very common, infectious and usually mild.
The good news is that there are lots of steps you can take to reduce the risk, for example, ensuring your child is up-to-date with their vaccinations and teaching them good hygiene practices.
Make it easy to keep on top of your child’s and family’s health by investing in a few products from the FeverMates online collection — we’ve got hand sanitiser, sanitising wipes and face masks to help prevent disease, as well as thermometers and cooling patches to treat minor illnesses.
Have a browse and stock up at home to help keep all the family fit and healthy!