As parents, one of our greatest concerns is the health and safety of our children. We kiss their boo-boos, wipe their tears and pamper them whenever they are sick. In fact, we would prefer if they not get sick altogether, but it is almost as if this is unavoidable at times. While we may not be able to prevent them from getting sick, being prepared to deal with their illness is one way in which we can continue to be the super parents they think we are. Below, we will discuss three of the most common illnesses during infancy and how to deal with them.
Influenza (The Flu)
A common contagious illness brought on by influenza viruses. It usually presents with some or all of the following symptoms:
- Stuffy Nose
- Sore Throat
- Aches & Pain
Prevention is always better than cure. One of the best ways to prevent the Flu is to get an annual seasonal Flu vaccine. The vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of contracting the flu and developing Flu-related illnesses. Other general precautions include keeping away from people that are sick, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Prevention is not always possible, and therefore measures to deal with the illness need to be implemented. First of all, it is important to note that the Flu is a virus and cannot be treated with the use of antibiotics. The Flu can be treated via the use of prescribed antiviral drugs. Alternatively, it is advised that your child gets plenty of rest (this includes keeping him/her away from other children) and consumes plenty of fluids. Treating the symptoms is also another way to keep your child comfortable. Painkillers, cough medicine or combined formulations can be bought over the counter.
The Common Cold
Adults contract the cold on average two to three times per year, and for children, this number is even higher. It is one of the most frequent reasons children miss school. While the Rhinovirus is the most common culprit, the cold can be caused by over 200 different viruses. Symptoms include:
- Stuffy nose
- Watery Eyes
- Mild Aches & Pain
- Mild Headaches
Just like the Flu, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. It usually clears up all on its own. The symptoms are usually treated with over the counter drugs like Children’s Tylenol Cold & Cough so that your child may be comfortable while he/she rides out the illness.
Conjunctivitis or as it is commonly called, Pink Eye, is the swelling or inflammation of the conjunctiva. It can be caused by allergens, a viral or bacterial infection or chemical irritant. Signs and symptoms include:
- Characteristic pink discoloration of the eyes.
- Gritty/Grainy feeling in the affected eye.
- Itching or burning of the affected eye.
- Watery Eyes
- Discharge from the affected eye.
- Swollen Eyelid.
- Increased sensitivity to light
Pink eye’s treatment is dependent on its cause. The causes and their treatment options are outlined below:
If the cause is an allergen, ideally the allergen or irritant is removed. Cold compress and eye drops can relieve the discomfort in mild cases. If the case is severe anti-inflammatory medication and antihistamines may have to be prescribed by your child’s pediatrician.
Antibiotic eye drops or ointments are usually prescribed in this scenario. Resolution is usually observed after two to three days of antibiotic use, but it is recommended that you give your child the full course as prescribed to reduce the chances of recurrence.
Antibiotics will not work in this instance. The virus needs to run its course. This can last two to three weeks. Symptoms may be relieved with a cold compress and eye drops. In severe cases, steroidal eye drops may be prescribed. It is important to note that this only helps to relieve your child’s symptoms and does not shorten the infection timeline.
The eyes are flushed carefully with a saline solution. If the chemical injury is severe, it may result in scarring or loss of sight. If your curious child gets a chemical in his/her eyes, flush them with water for several minutes then contact your healthcare provider.
While your child is ill, monitor them and try to prevent them from rubbing their eyes, wash their hands frequently and change their rags and towels daily. Most importantly, never allow them to share these items with anyone so that they avoid spreading it to the rest of the household.
Seeing our kids in discomfort can definitely tug at the heartstrings and make for an overwhelming experience. Being prepared and knowing exactly how it is we can make them more comfortable can help in making the experience a lot less stressful for both the child and ourselves. Feel free to share your stories, and any tips you may have in the comments section below.