Many different situations bring children to the doctor. The causes range from simple illnesses to major injuries. Understanding the most common causes can help parents be prepared and take proper preventative measures.
Five out of six kids have at least one ear infection by the time they turn three. They happen because fluid has trouble draining from children’s small Eustachian tubes. Ear infections are often secondary to colds, respiratory infections, and other illnesses. The usual treatment is antibiotics. In chronic cases, your doctor might recommend an operation in which tubes are placed in your child’s ears to drain fluid and bacteria.
A cough is probably the most common reason kids visit the doctor. It’s often due to colds or viruses but can occur for other reasons. If your child has a breathless or wheezing cough or if a fever accompanies the cough, he or she might have a chest infection. A cough might also be a sign of asthma or allergies.
Strep occurs often during winter, when kids are in close quarters. Kids with strep have swollen glands and difficulty swallowing. They may have pus or red patches in the back of their throats, as well as enlarged tonsils. Kids with strep often lose their appetites because swallowing is so painful. The virus can also cause scarlet fever, so look for accompanying red splotches on the child’s torso.
Childhood stomach bugs cause everything from vomiting to abdominal pain and diarrhea. Symptoms range from mild to severe and most clear up in a day or two. A child with a stomach bug should drink plenty of fluids. Since those can be hard to keep down, popsicles are a great alternative. If symptoms don’t resolve themselves within about 48 hours or if your child seems unusually lethargic, call your doctor.
Influenza, or the flu, hits kids hard and can last more than a week. Symptoms include body aches, chills and fever, coughing, and sometimes vomiting. The best preventive measure is the flu vaccine. If your child gets the illness before you can vaccinate, see the doctor immediately. He or she may prescribe an antiviral such as Tamiflu to lessen symptoms.