Infectious Pediatric Diseases

Infectious Childhood Diseases Image

As a parent, the health of your child is most likely your top priority. While there are certain childhood diseases from which you cannot protect your child, there are many others that you and your child can work to avoid. By simply having good personal hygiene habits and taking some important and necessary precautions, your child can reduce her chance of developing infectious childhood diseases.

An infectious disease is one that can be spread from person to person. These diseases can be spread with or without physical contact. For instance, while a child may develop strep throat from drinking after a contagious friend, she may also develop the illness from simply being in the same room as the infected child.

Childhood diseases include the following, among others:

  • chickenpox
  • common cold
  • head lice
  • measles
  • mumps
  • stomach flu
  • strep throat.

While most children who develop the above-listed infectious diseases will experience relatively minor symptoms for a brief period of time, some children can develop life-threatening symptoms. Therefore, it is important to understand infectious childhood diseases and know how you can protect your child.

In this section, we’ll discuss a variety of infectious childhood diseases. We’ll describe the causes and symptoms of each and also detail what you should do for your child if she develops one of the conditions.

Children with Mumps

The mumps is an infectious disease caused by a virus. The disease is most often characterized by a painful swelling of the salivary glands in the neck. Thus, children who have the mumps often feature swollen cheeks. Swelling may also appear under the tongue, under the jaw or even down the chest.

Besides painfully swollen salivary glands, a child with the mumps often exhibits the following symptoms:

  • fever up to 103 F
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • pain when swallowing, talking or chewing
  • pain from acidic beverages, such as orange juice
  • tenderness and swelling of one or both testicles in adolescent and adult males
  • weakness and fatigue.

Knowing the causes and symptoms of mumps is essential to treating children with mumps.

Chickenpox

Although anyone can get chickenpox, it’s most common in children under the age of 15. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus, a member of the herpes virus family.

Chickenpox is highly contagious. Those who’ve never been infected can get chickenpox just by touching someone else with the disease or simply by breathing the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or exhales. The incubation period for chickenpox is approximately 10 to 21 days after exposure.

Chickenpox begins with a rash that appears as small red bumps. A child with chickenpox will often feel tired and may develop abdominal pain or feel somewhat ill one to two days before the rash appears.

Today, children can receive a vaccination to reduce their risk of developing chickenpox.

Common Cold

As a parent, you likely know how miserable the common cold can make a normally active and healthy child. Caused by a virus and, therefore, resistant to antibiotics, your child will likely begin to exhibit symptoms of the common cold two to three days after coming into contact with the virus.

Symptoms of the common cold include:

  • coughing
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches
  • runny nose
  • slight fever
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • swelling of the sinus membranes.

Cold symptoms last anywhere between two and 14 days, but most children will feel better within a week of developing the common cold.

Resources

Dowshen, Steven (reviewed 2004). Common Cold. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007, from the Kids Health Web site: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/cold.html.

Dowshen, Steven (reviewed 2006). Mumps. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007, from the Kids Health Web site: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/mumps.html.

Hirsch, Larissa (Reviewed August 2006). Chickenpox. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/chicken_pox.html.