Childhood Diseases Common Illnesses

Every parent knows the worry that comes with a sick child. There are so many things that can go wrong, and figuring out what to do when your child is sick can be overwhelming. An understanding of common childhood diseases may help to ease your mind.

Common Disease

There are some diseases of childhood that are more prevalent than others. Some of the most common diseases include:

  • Common cold: Symptoms may include stuffy, runny nose, cough, and sore throat. A cold can lead to upper or lower respiratory tract infections.
  • Croup: Similar to whooping cough, this viral infection causes a child’s upper airway to become constricted. The main symptoms are a high fever and a barking cough.
  • Ear infection: Symptoms may include pain, swelling and redness of the ear drum, and sometimes a fever. Ear infections can be treated with antibiotics, but treatment is not always necessary.
  • Fifth disease: Usually seen in children aged five through 14, symptoms include a lacy red rash on chest, stomach, and limbs, as well as a fever and red cheeks.
  • Flu: Symptoms of this seasonal illness have symptoms that are similar to those of the common cold. Some additional symptoms include fever, body aches, headaches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Head lice: These are parasitic insects found on the human body, usually on the scalp. Lice can be removed with over-the-counter or prescription drugs, often in the form of shampoos.
  • Rotavirus: This is a common cause of severe diarrhea. Typical symptoms include vomiting and watery diarrhea for a few days, sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain.
  • Thrush: Thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth and throat seen mostly in infants. The most common symptom is the existence of painless, white areas in the mouth.
  • Whooping cough: Also known as pertussis, this contagious bacterial respiratory tract infection is most serious in infants. The initial symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, leading to frequent coughing.

While this is certainly not a complete list, these are a few of the more common illnesses you may encounter.

Childhood Disease Prevention

Though you can’t guarantee that you will never have sick children, you can take steps to lessen the likelihood of childhood disease. Diseases generally spread through direct contact. That contact may be through skin, saliva, or mucous, or also indirectly by touching the same items. Children are most susceptible to illness due to lowered immunity, and are often in close proximity to each other in settings such as school and daycare.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your children healthy:

  • Don’t share personal items
  • Get regular vaccinations
  • Keep common areas clean
  • Maintain well-child visits
  • Sanitize toys occasionally
  • Wash hands frequently.

Even the most common childhood diseases can be quite troubling to parents, so it’s best to be aware of these common illnesses, including their symptoms and treatments. That being said, children are resilient, and with proper precautionary measures and care, it’s likely that you and your child will get through any such illness just fine, but talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.


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Iowa Department of Public Health Staff. (n.d.). Guide to childhood illness. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Iowa Department of Public Health Web site:

National Center for Infectious Diseases Staff. (n.d.). Childhood diseases. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the National Center for Infectious Diseases Web site:

South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control Staff. (n.d.). Identifying common childhood illnesses. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control Web site:

Web MD Staff. (2008). Croup: Topic overview. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from the Web MD Web site: