sick kid

When your child is unwell, it can be the most testing experience of your life. You are torn between sympathy and irritability and it can sometimes just get too much to handle. Today, we will take a look at some of the more common causes and cure for the screaming child. One thing is for sure: You should use this as a time to get a few extra cuddles. Even when they are at their most difficult, remember that they won’t stay small and cuddly for long. 

  1. Common Cold

Kids seem to pick up colds like they’re going out of fashion. If only they were going out of fashion! It isn’t unusual for a child to come down with eight colds a year! This is mostly because kids pick up everything they see; toys, bugs, garbage. Somewhere along the line, they are bound to encounter something that is infected with droplets of the common cold. It is important to note that they don’t catch a cold simply from being cold. Don’t berate yourself for letting them outside without a jumper. It is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, which can be exacerbated (not caused by) by prolonged exposure to dry cold air.

How would I know if my child has this?

Often, your child might develop a runny nose, a slight cough, or refuse to eat because of a sore throat.  Over time, their music will turn green and they will become more lethargic than usual. They will also develop a temperature, and you can use a thermometer to work out whether it is reaching a concerning level. If they are above 36.5 and below 37.8, you are in healthy territory. Bear in mind that a thermometer can be a bit uncomfortable for kids, so if you can, take the temperature through the ear or underarm.

How can I help my child feel better?

Keep their fluids up. This is even better if you can get them drinking warmer fluids like broth or soup as this can thin out the mucus that is clogging their sinuses. On the other end of the spectrum, cold or frozen drinks can provide a bit of pain relief to sore throats, whilst also helping to bring down your body temperature (keep checking with a thermometer if you’re concerned). You can also provide pain relief with children’s nurofen. This will often help you to do the other things listed above if they are feeling a bit less rotten.

  1. Gastro

This one is not uncommon, but truly awful. You will spend your days consoling a miserable child, and washing endless amounts of sheets. It is an illness that is the result of an infected digestive system. Your child will have come into contact with someone else who was infectious, or they may have touched decaying animal matter of faeces. Washing your hands is your silver bullet here. Sanitise, rinse and repeat.

How would I know if my child has this?

Often, the first clue is that your child will complain about a sore tummy. But your first giveaway is that they will vomit. In younger children, they will typically vomit a few times at once, so clear the area of anything that has mercifully remained clean; it will save the amount of washing you will need to do later. After a little while, the infection will move lower in the gut, and the projection will turn into diarrhoea.

How can I help my child feel better?

More than ever, fluids become crucial. A little person loses so much fluid with every vomit or watery poo that the biggest risk becomes dehydration. However, if you give them too much liquid at once (particularly after a vomit), you are putting too much back into their stomach, which triggers another round of vomiting. This will add unnecessary anxiety for you and them. Instead, get them to drink little bits of water in 5 minute intervals. Continue to monitor their temperature with a thermometer and if they move into the high 38s, this might be worth seeking medical intervention.

Consider giving them hydrolytes in some form. An ice block is a great choice because the cold provides some respite from the pain, and it forces them to ingest fluids slowly. The hydrolytes function to retain fluids more effectively, staving off dehydration. In the days following, cut anything dairy, sugary or overly fatty from their diets. Breads, pastas and vegetables are a wonderful option here.

  1. Hand Foot and Mouth

This is one of those things that will swear you off playgrounds for good. It is an infectious disease that manifests in little blisters on the (surprise) hands, feet and mouth, and the most common way for a child under five to pick it up is by touching the surface that an infectious person has touched (playgrounds, anyone?).

How would I know if my child has this?

They will often develop a fever that might look like the common cold. You can tell the difference by looking for little red pin pricks on either the hands, feet or mouth. It does not need to be all three. The mouth blisters give themselves away because your child might avoid eating or drinking; they might dribble more profusely because they are trying not to swallow; finally they might express a preference for icy foods or fluids. This can become a problem because your child can quickly become dehydrated, and if you don’t get onto it ASAP, they might need an IV drip at the hospital.

How can I help my child feel better?

You can treat the fever like it is the common cold. The blisters will generally not be too uncomfortable, though they will go away more quickly if they are left alone to heel. You should make sure your child is wearing shoes at all times, and washing their hands regularly so as to not infect other people. Seek help if your child is overly lethargic, floppy or non responsive.


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