7 Serious Childhood Illnesses That Seem Harmless at the Onset
Be wary of these 7 diseases that may not show serious symptoms at the start.
Mums and dads, one can never get used to the kids falling sick. Thankfully, most of the times, it is a case of the simple common cold.
However, there are some infections that start out innocent but may end up causing serious complications later on. Here is a list of 7 such infections.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection
The Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) causes inflammation of the respiratory tract. It causes a harmless infection in adults but can cause a serious, life-threatening condition in children.
Commonly affects: Children and adults
Most commonly spreads by: Sneezing of the infected child. So, it can do rounds in the daycare
Starts off as: A runny nose, decrease in appetite, sneezing.
Disease and complications: It can cause bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways. In infants less than 6 months, and in older children with complications, hospitalisation may be required.
Management: If you find that your child has a fever and has difficulty in breathing, visit your healthcare provider. He may send you back home, but an assessment of the child’s condition is always better.
Know more about RSV infection here.
Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Bug)
Caused by Norovirus, this is commonly short-lived acute gastroenteritis causing severe discomfort to the child
Commonly affects: Anybody
Most commonly spreads by: Drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food
Starts off as: Nausea, severe vomiting, watery diarrhoea
Disease and complications: Vomiting and diarrhoea are always non-bloody. It may be accompanied by abdominal cramps and fever. The symptoms resolve within 72 hours.
Management: Visit your doctor. Take care that the child does not suffer from dehydration. Give her an electrolyte solution frequently.
Know more about the stomach virus here.
Commonly known as Flu, it is a condition causing fever and occasionally runny nose in children. It is different from the common cold.
Commonly affects: Everybody, but young children younger than 5 are at a high risk of developing severe complications
Most commonly spreads by: Sneezing and coughing
Starts off as: Fever and sore throat.
Disease and complications: The infection ranges from mild to severe, even fatal form. Young children are at high risk of developing complications like pneumonia and may require hospitalisation.
Management: Antiviral medicines can reduce the severity of the disease in children. If you suspect a flu, visit your doctor. Again, a vaccine provides a protection to your child.
Know more about Influenza here.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Highly contagious infection caused most commonly by the Coxsackievirus A16.
Commonly affects: Infants and children under 5 years
Most commonly spreads by: Contact with a patient who sneezes, so it spreads easily in schools, daycare
Starts off as: Low-grade fever, general discomfort, loss of appetite, and sore throat.
Disease and complications: In about 4 to 6 days after exposure, sores appear in the mouth, hand, feet and occasionally buttocks. If untreated, it can cause severe complications if the lungs and the heart are involved.
Management: Visit your doctor. Take care that the child does not suffer from dehydration. You can use small ice popsicles for older children to provide symptomatic relief for the sores.
Know more about HFMD here.
It is a type of a sore throat caused by the type A Streptococci.
Commonly affects: Children between 5 and 15, but an older sibling may pass on the infection to a younger sibling less than 5 as well.
Most commonly spreads by: Coughing and sneezing.
Starts off as: Sore throat. Later, a rash may follow. The rash starts on the neck, underarms and groin and spreads to the whole body. It is typically red, hence the name.
Disease and complications: The most typical symptom is a red strawberry-like tongue. If untreated, it can lead to serious complications later on in life including Rheumatic fever, arthritis and kidney diseases.
Management: A simple test followed by a dose of antibiotics can prevent complication later on in life.
Read more about Scarlet fever here.
An infection of the intestines caused by Rotavirus.
Commonly affects: Infants and young children.
Most commonly spreads by: Contaminated poop. It can easily spread by contaminated hands, toys, water and food. So, it makes rounds in the day-care.
Starts off as: Unease, or no symptoms at all for 2 days.
Disease and complications: severe watery diarrhoea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. The risk of dehydration is high.
Management: Visit a doctor and keep the child hydrated. Keep a tab on the wet diapers. It is easy to be misled because of watery diarrhoea. Keep the baby nappy-free and see if she pees in front of you.
You can vaccinate the child before the infection occurs. It does not prevent future attacks, but they tend to be milder.
Know more about Rotavirus infection here.
It is the inflammation of the covering of the brain and the spinal cord caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, protozoa, as well as non-infective causes.
Commonly affects: Children of all ages.
Most commonly spreads by: Food, close contact, coughing and sneezing, and even during labour.
Starts off as: Headaches, neck rigidity, increased sensitivity towards light. In babies, it is difficult to see these signs. So, a bulging fontanelle may be an indicator along with fever and poor feeding.
Disease and complications: The inflammation of meninges causes a really serious condition. If your baby has a fever and is unable to look down towards his feet while lying down, just rush to your doctor.
Management: Antibiotics are used in the management of Meningitis. You can vaccinate your baby to reduce the risk of meningitis.
Know more about meningitis here.
Did we miss anything?
If you feel you want to know more about any other childhood conditions, do let us know in the comments below.