10 Childhood Illnesses That All Parents Should Be Able to Learn to Identify

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When a child shows the first signs of SARS, many parents start using anti-cold medications that decrease the fever. But they don’t know that more serious illnesses may hide behind symptoms of a regular cold. In order to protect their children’s health, parents should pay attention to their symptoms before it’s too late.

We wants to teach you how to identify a serious illness in your child and how to choose the right method of treatment.

Angina

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a sore throat
  • fever

Distinctive symptoms:

  • enlarged tonsils
  • white coating on the tongue and mouth
  • pain in the eyes
  • a fever higher than 99.5 °F
  • weakness
  • difficulty swallowing

When a child has a sore throat and a fever, it’s natural to assume they’re suffering from a cold. However, these symptoms can be early signs of angina. Angina is dangerous because of its serious complications. Streptococcus is the pathogen of this illness and often infects the heart or the kidneys. In order to avoid complications, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics as early as the first day of the illness. Don’t refuse to give them to your kid.

Rotavirus infection

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a sore throat
  • fever
  • feeling generally bad
  • a runny nose

Distinctive symptoms:

  • stomachache
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

This illness combines the symptoms of a cold and various digestive disorders. You can get infected if you come in contact with an ill person or ingest infected food or water. The body loses a lot of water due to the vomiting and diarrhea, so dehydration is the biggest danger to worry about during this illness. That’s why the first thing that parents should do is give water to their children — but only in small, digestible amounts like 1 tbsp every 3-5 minutes.

Whooping cough

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • dry coughing
  • fever
  • a runny nose

Distinctive symptoms:

  • a bad cough with a whooping sound
  • vomiting

Not every doctor can recognize whooping cough at its earliest stages so treating the child with anti-cold medicine can give falsely positive results in the beginning. But as time passes, the bad cough with a “whoop” sound appears, which is the illness’s first obvious symptom. This harsh cough may end with a bout of vomiting. Don’t wait and go to the doctor as soon as possible because only a professional can determine the illness with a series of tests.

Scarlet fever

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a sore throat
  • fever
  • weakness

Distinctive symptoms:

  • small red rash

Scarlet fever is something that appears mostly in babies. A day after the beginning of the illness, a small red rash may appear on the body. The distinctive feature of scarlet fever is that the rash doesn’t appear on the nose or the skin around the lips. In order to avoid serious complications in the internal organs, doctors often prescribe antibiotics just like in the case of angina.

Asthma

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a cough

Distinctive symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • a whooping noise coming from the lungs

Aside from infectious illnesses, a cough can be caused by asthma. Asthma is a hereditary illness, so if there are people who have it in your family, you should be cautious. When a person has asthma, there is a high risk of suffocating if they have SARS, an allergic reaction, or even when laughing or crying. Asthma is a chronic illness but if you treat it right, you can forget about it for a long time. A worsening case of asthma can happen at any time, so in order to avoid it, you should give your child antihistamines prescribed by your doctor.

Polio

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • weakness
  • fever
  • feeling generally bad

Distinctive symptoms:

  • pain in legs and arms
  • no sense of direction

Poliomyelitis or polio is a very serious illness that targets the spinal cord and can cause severe paralysis. It is often not diagnosed correctly and instead, treated like a regular cold. Only when the child starts to complain about pains in their legs and arms, develop movement disorders, or lose their sense of direction, that doctors suspect a more serious illness. Polio can be diagnosed only after a special blood test. After the illness has gone, the child will have to go through a long and hard rehabilitation period and the normal movements may never be restored.

Tuberculosis

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a dry cough
  • tickling in the throat
  • fever
  • poor appetite
  • feeling generally bad and tired

Distinctive symptoms:

  • a bad wet cough
  • feeling increasingly weak
  • pale skin
  • cramping when coughing

Tuberculosis can easily be confused with a cold in the beginning stages, but there is an important difference. Usually, when a person has the cold virus, symptoms disappear in a few days. But if they have TB, the illness continues to develop. Their skin becomes pale, and their fever doesn’t disappear for a long time. It’s important to pay attention to your child’s cough. It’s accompanied by a metallic sound and can result in cramping. In case there is a suspicion that it could be TB, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible and have your child’s lungs X-rayed.

Croup

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • weakness
  • fever
  • feeling generally bad

Distinctive symptoms:

  • a bad cough
  • a swollen throat

Croup can start alongside a regular cold. When a kid catches a cold, the virus gets into the upper airways and then goes down to the lower ones, causing the throat to swell. The swelling squeezes the throat and makes the child cough. Their cough sounds like a barking dog and their breathing becomes loud and heavy. If you suspect that it’s croup, you should call the ambulance immediately. This illness often leads to death. Unless a child gets help on time, the airway gets blocked and there is a risk of suffocation. It’s important to remember that croup develops very quickly and can be fatal if you don’t act fast.

Measles

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • weakness
  • nasal stuffiness
  • a sore throat
  • fever
  • pain in joints

Distinctive symptoms:

  • white spots on the insides of the cheeks
  • rash on the body

Measles is a serious infectious illness. At its early stages, measles and the flu are hard to tell apart from one another. However, when a child has measles, there are certain changes in the mucus of the mouth appearing as white spots on the cheeks. Several days later, you might see a rash which can help diagnose the illness. In order for the infection not to spread, it’s important to isolate the ill child. Measles is dangerous because of its complications so you should be very careful during the beginning stages of the illness.

Rubella

Symptoms of a regular cold:

  • a runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • fever

Distinctive symptoms:

  • a rash on the body

Rubella is an infectious illness caused by a virus that harms the immune system and all internal organs and systems. An important symptom of rubella is a rash that appears on the 3rd day after the initial infection. At its early stages, the rash is localized around the ears, the front part of the neck and the cheeks but it never appears on the palms of the hands or the skin of the feet. Testing the rash, blood, and urine of the child can help to diagnose the illness.

Take care of your children and pay close attention to their symptoms. Which symptoms do you think are the easiest to mistake for a regular cold? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

Illustrated by Alena Sofronova for BrightSide.me

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