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The most common childhood diseases

It is not easy being a parent. Children are a joy and are rewarding to have. However, they are not without their problems. It is always hardest when our little ones get sick.

We want to do as much for them as possible and make their pain go away. Knowing what to do and what to look for when our children are not feeling well is essential in being able to accomplish that. There are many common childhood diseases that most parents will experience in their lives. There are also a few more serious conditions common in children that we will look at.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is a mental illness that affects over two million children in the United States. It is diagnosed by the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are beyond what one would consider normal in a child. Children who have excessive trouble focusing or paying attention or are easily distracted should be analyzed for ADHD. Also, if they are constantly in motion and have an inability to sit still for extended periods of time, this may be an indication of the disease. Finally, if a child has difficulty controlling themselves, reacts emotionally or immediately act on their first thought, the child may have ADHD.

Diagnosis is based on continual and severe issues that impact the child’s home, social or school life. Medications can be prescribed to control the symptoms. Most experts agree that in addition to medications, the child should get assistance with the emotional and psychological issues as well. Significant, long lasting, positive results generally occur more often in cases where a combination of medication and psychological care is employed.

Common Cold

A cold is a viral infection that is accompanied by sneezing, runny nose and fever. It is also sometimes accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. A cold usually does not last very long and there is no treatment for it. However, you may treat the symptoms of the disease with over the counter medications. For a fever, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen but do not use aspirin. There are several sinus medications that may help with sneezing and runny nose. The best way to pull through a cold is bed rest and plenty of fluids. A cold will typically last a few days only and it is not normally necessary to see a physician. If symptoms get worse and child is not getting better, though, see a doctor because there may be a more serious infection.

Fifth disease

Fifth disease is a common childhood viral infection that causes a rash, fever, muscle aches and headache. It manifests itself on the cheeks and has a “slapped cheek” look. The rash will then progress through the limbs and trunk. Treatment is not normally needed unless symptoms are severe. However, the symptoms can be lessened by using over the counter topical medications.


Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection that occurs primarily in children. There is a vaccine for chickenpox available. However, if you choose not to get it, the disease is usually fairly easy to get through and you will only have to deal with it once as most people will only get it once in their lifetime. The symptoms include red bumps on the body that turn into blisters and increases over the course of several days and may be accompanied by fever. The bumps may look like insect bites or a rash and is often difficult to diagnose the first few days. Watch the bumps to see if they turn into blisters and more bumps emerge over a few days. If so, it is likely chickenpox.

You should take your child to see a doctor immediately if chicken pox occurs in an infant, if the bumps seem infected, if there are bumps on the eyelid or the child seems unusually sick. If none of these symptoms exist, however, there is no need to take the child to the doctor. All the doctor will do is confirm the case and take your money. There is cure and no prescription that can be taken. It simply needs to run its course.

The child will need to be quarantined for the duration of the disease because it is highly contagious. However, once your child has had them, they will not get them again. It typically takes seven days for the chicken pox to no longer be contagious. Make sure that they are removed from other children in the house and they do not attend school. Make sure nobody uses the same dishes or glasses that the infected child has used.

The symptoms of the disease are what need to be treated to ensure maximum comfort of the child. The child should not scratch at the bumps because this may cause infection. Frequent baths will help soothe the itchiness especially an oatmeal bath. Over the counter medications such as Benadryl will help as well. Dab the infected area with the medicine to relieve discomfort. Only treat a fever if it is over 101° F. A fever actually will help the child heal. If it is high, though, treat it with acetaminophen and ibuprofen products. Do not use aspirin with a viral infection because the child could have a severe reaction to it.


Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 20. Early diagnosis, aggressive treatment and monitoring are essential in prolonging life and increasing the chances of going into remission. There are two types of leukemia: acute and chronic. Acute leukemia is a rapidly progressing form of the cancer while chronic leukemia may only require ongoing monitoring.

There are four types of treatments generally used for leukemia. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy are commonly used. Often a combination of the four will also be used to ensure all the cancer is treated. Chemotherapy is the most common form of treatment, using chemicals to treat the entire body. Radiotherapy is a targeted treatment using radiation to concentrate doses in a particular area. A bone marrow transplant is a type of surgery where a donor’s marrow is transferred to the patient. Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system so the body can attack the cancer cells.

Children who have chronic leukemia can often go years without any negative side effects or necessary treatment. If acute leukemia is present, however, immediate treatment is necessary. If treatment is successful, monitoring should occur throughout the child’s lifetime to ensure continued remission.

Strep Throat

A child with strep throat will have a sore, red throat and may also have other symptoms such as vomiting, headache, fever and abdominal pain. The child may have a hard time swallowing and the glands on the side of the neck may swell. There may also be white specks of pus on the tonsils.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is diagnosed by swabbing the back of the throat and testing. Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat the infection. The antibiotics will quickly reduce the child's fever and will shorten the length of the illness. Additional over the counter medications can be used to help with the discomfort such as throat lozenges and sprays. During the illness, avoid difficult to swallow foods and stay with soups and softer foods so the throat is not further irritated.


Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection that has affected approximately one third of the world’s population. Often TB has no symptoms but symptoms are most prevalent in infants. They may include a dry cough, trouble breathing, fever, poor appetite, night sweats and trouble gaining weight. If there are no symptoms, TB is commonly diagnosed with a skin test that is performed in childhood during a normal medical check up. It is treated with anti-tuberculosis medicines such as isoniazid or rifampin for an extended period of time.

Many childhood diseases are easily treatable and will only cause some temporary discomfort. Other diseases are more severe and even life threatening. However, it is important to be aware of symptoms and what to do in case your child becomes ill with one of these common diseases. Contact your physician if you are unsure or your child is feeling unusually ill.

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