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Understanding Common Childhood Illnesses

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Dr Tan Kuanyang, Paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre talks to us about common childhood illnesses and explains what symptoms should be taken more seriously than others.

Colds and sniffles are part of growing up. But there are times when colds and sniffles can be symptoms of something more serious. So how do we know when to just give a hug, kiss and a day of school, and when to rush to the doctor?

Dr Tan Kuanyang, Paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre, talks to us about common childhood illnesses in Singapore and how to cope with them.

Top childhood illnesses in Singapore

Based on his experience and the patients coming into his practice, Dr Tan lists the following as the most common childhood illnesses in Singapore:

  1. Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
  2. Gastroenteritis
  3. Hand Foot Mouth Disease / Herpangina
  4. Bronchiolitis
  5. Infected Insect Bites / Cellulitis

When it comes to chronic conditions, the most prevalent ones are:

  1. Eczema
  2. Asthma / Chronic Cough
  3. Allergic Rhinitis
  4. Constipation
  5. Picky Eating

A balanced and nutritious diet can help children fight off common childhood illnesses.

Preventing common childhood illnesses

According to Dr Tan, there is no way to prevent a child from ever falling sick, given that the child's passive immunity, acquired from maternal antibodies, begins to wane at 7-9 months of age. However, there are some steps that can be adopted to minimise the risk of illnesses. These include the following:

  1. Ensuring that children have a balanced and nutritious diet.
  2. Children are vaccinated according to the schedule, including optional vaccines.
  3. Children follow good hand hygiene practices such as frequent and thorough washing of hands with soap.
  4. There is evidence to suggest that probiotics as well as zinc and vitamin C supplements can help prevent stomach infections and colds respectively. So children can be given these supplements.
  5. If your child is ill, be a responsible parent and keep him away from school to prevent spreading of the disease.

When should parents worry?

In general, says Dr Tan, if the child is otherwise growing well, there is no need to worry about immunological deficiencies. A red flag would be when two major illnesses occur close together, for example, your child suffers from two closely spaced pneumonias.

However, there could be any number of reasons why this occurs and it is best to get your child assessed by his paediatrician. The paediatrician should be able to address individual concerns over an immunological deficit.

Meningococcal Disease

If you have any concerns you should take your child to the doctor straightaway.

While you should always see a doctor if you have any concerns over the child's health, you really do need to rush them into a hospital if they display any of the following symptoms:

  1. Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  2. Child is lethargic
  3. Seizures / Fits
  4. Fever of more than 40 degrees Celsius with shivering
  5. Fevers of more than 120 hours in duration
  6. Incessant vomiting
  7. The child is feeding poorly
  8. The child appears to be dehydrated

Dr Tan Kuanyang can be contacted at:

Thomson Paediatric Centre
339 Thomson Road, #06-05
Thomson Medical Centre
Singapore 307677
Tel: 6259 7667
Website: http://thomsonpaediatriccentre.com/

Child Health Cold & Flu Health / Wellness