Taking a child's temperature

Common Childhood Illnesses and How to Handle Them

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Having children is wonderful, busy, difficult, heart filing and depleting all at the same time! But there is no denying when your baby gets poorly; you take back every time you ever thought they were annoying. You’d do anything to make sure they feel better again, and are bouncing around the couch again. 

But what are the most common childhood illnesses, and how can you handle them? It is easy to be worried, and sometimes it can be confusing to tell the difference between a normal skin rash and trying to identify baby hives. This handle list can help you spot some of the most common illnesses and have your child feeling right as rain in no time at all. 

Ear Pain

Ear pain in children can be challenging to spot even more so if they are too small to be able to tell you what hurts. Ear infections and pain is common in children. It might be an ear infection, swimmer’s ear, tooth pain that has migrated to the jaw and ear, or even pressure from a sinus or cold. 

If you notice your child pulling on their ear lobe, scratching around there ear, or pressing their ear to their shoulder, that is typically a sign of ear pain. 

Your doctor will need to take a look inside the ear and will prescribe antibiotics when needed. 

Ear pain can be soothed by a warm compress


A urinary tract infection is common in babies, right through to teenagers are adults. UTI causes a painful sensation when taking a wee, and it can be described as burning. It might also cause bedwetting in potty-trained children, back pain, tummy pain and pain in the side. 

A doctor will most likely need a urine sample, and your child will get medication for the bacteria they have. 

Drinking plenty of fluids is important as children can get dehydrated quickly when poorly. 


A cold is one of the most common childhood illnesses. Almost all children will get the common cold to varying degrees between October and February. Colds are caused by a virus in the upper respiratory tract. Did you know that a child can get between 6-8 colds per year? And, that they last up to 10 days. 

They used to say that green snot or mucus meant that the infection needed antibiotics. However, for most colds, rest, fluids and a few days are enough for the child to feel better. 

If the cold does spread and turns into a sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. 

The best thing you can do is make sure your child is comfy, has plenty of water, eats often and has lots of rest. 

Bacterial Sinusitis

Sometimes bacteria can get trapped in the sinuses. This will present itself as a runny nose and may last ten days or more. If your child has a yellow discharge and a temperature, then they may need antibiotics. A chat with your doctor or pharmacist will give you the information that you need. 


There are many different types of cough that your child may get. Some coughs are dry and itchy, others are phlegmy, and others are distinctive – like whooping cough. 

A cough will usually accompany a cold, and there isn’t a need to worry even though they can sound quite nasty. A cough will usually clear up by itself. 

It is important that before you give your child any cough medicine, you consult your doctor or pharmacist. Some cough medicine contains strong ingredients like codeine, which shouldn’t be administered to a child without a doctors prescription – or without medical advice. 

Whooping cough has a very specific cough, that sounds similar to whopping. It is very contagious. However, many children are vaccinated against it. The cough sounds like a hard hacking cough, followed by deep and high-pitched breathing in – which sounds like the whoop. 

For a cough, make sure your child has plenty of fluids. Depending on their age you can give them honey, lemon and warm water. This can soothe the throat and tastes great too. 

COVID-19 coughing has been characterised as dry, persisted and will leave you or your child short of breath. This type of cough doesn’t produce any phlegm and will sound closer to a bark. 

Sore Throat

Like the common cold, sore throats can be expected in children, with varying degrees of pain. Most of the time, you will not be given antibiotics for a sore throat. A  sore throat will improve between 7-10 days and will require plenty of fluid and softer foods. 

Strep throat is another throat infection that is common in children. It most cases a doctor will need to swab the throat. A positive strep result will mean your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics. It is very important that your child finishes the whole course, even if they are feeling better. 

It is important to note that infants and toddlers don’t often get strep throat unless they have older siblings with the illness. Strep typically spreads with coughing or sneezing. 

Worsening Condition

If your child’s symptoms get worse, it is important that you get in contact with your doctors and explain the situation. If new symptoms develop, a rash on the body or breathing difficulties arise, your child should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. 

General Pain

There are some times where your child doesn’t have a cough, a cold, earache or other. They just have a general heightened temperature and feel a little under the weather. There are a number of OTC medications you can get like children’s paracetamol and children’s ibuprofen. 

It is essential that you talk to the pharmacist before you purchase and use any over the counter medication as they can often ensure you have the right things for your child. 

Most childhood illnesses will be a minor inconvenience for your child for a few days, and they will be right as rain. If you are worried it is something more serious, or cannot identify a rash then don’t hesitate to contact out of hours services, your doctors or 111 where applicable.

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