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Childhood illnesses: The factsWhile vaccines have made some childhood illnesses rare, many others remain a fact of life. To provide even greater transparency and choice, we are working on a number of other cookie-related enhancements. It is intended for general information purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.
Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the BootsWebMD Site. It is most common in babies under 12 months old, and occurs most often between October and March.
Some young children with their first RSV infection will develop noticeable wheezing, and may need treatment in hospital. Ear infectionYoung children are prone to ear infections because of their small Eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the ears to the throat and they may get blocked when a cold causes inflammation.
Childhood vaccinations help prevent infections from certain bacteria that can cause ear infections.
Glue earGlue ear refers to a build up of fluid in the middle ear, usually without any pain.
The medical term for glue ear is otitis media with effusion and it often follows an acute ear infection.
If glue ear lingers and threatens to interfere with a child's hearing, grommets (ear tubes) may be recommended to help fluid drain and air to move in and out of the ear. Hand, foot and mouth diseaseHand, foot and mouth disease causes a fever along with blisters on the inside of the mouth, the palms of the hands, the buttocks and the soles of the feet. Hand, foot and mouth disease is not the same as foot and mouth disease, which affects farm animals.
ConjunctivitisTears, redness, discomfort, discharge and crusty eyelashes are all signs of conjunctivitis. Often caused by the same viruses as the common cold, conjunctivitis spreads rapidly in schools and nurseries.
Slapped cheekSlapped cheek syndrome or fifth disease causes a bright red rash on a child's face.


The culprit is parvovirus B19, a virus that may cause mild cold-like symptoms before the rash is seen. RotavirusThe NHS estimates that every child will have at least one rotavirus infection before they are five.
The main symptoms are vomiting and watery diarrhoea, which can make babies become dehydrated very quickly.
A rotavirus oral vaccine is available for babies and is part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
Doctors have yet to discover exactly what causes it but it is thought to be caused by an infection. The symptoms include a fever, patchy rash, swelling and redness of the hands and feet, bloodshot eyes and chapped, red lips. ChickenpoxChickenpox is usually a mild infection but is a very infectious condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
MeaslesIf your children have had their MMR jabs, you probably don't have to worry about measles, although there are still many cases among unvaccinated children. MumpsMumps is another childhood illness that was very common before the MMR vaccine became available.
The infection often causes no symptoms, but when it does, the classic sign is swollen glands between the ear and jaw.
This creates the appearance of "hamster cheeks." Despite high vaccination rates, there are still cases, usually amongst unvaccinated teenagers and young adults. Rubella (German measles)Rubella, also called German measles, is a mild virus that usually causes no serious problems other than a fever and a rash. The symptoms are a low grade fever and a rash that spreads from the face to the rest of the body.
Whooping coughWhooping cough, caused by infection with Bordella pertussis bacteria, makes children cough so hard, they run out of breath and inhale with a "whoop." The infection is most severe in infants and may require hospital treatment.
MeningitisMeningitis is an inflammation or infection of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord. In older children, teenagers and adults, the main symptoms are severe headache, vomiting, fever and stiff neck. Viral meningitis is usually mild, but bacterial meningitis is more severe with serious consequences if it isn't treated quickly. Sore throatMost children get a sore throat now and then, usually due to a common cold virus.


Seek medical advice if a sore throat lasts more than a week, or if there's pain or difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, a rash, pus in the back of the throat or fever.
The rash usually appears 12 – 48 hours after the fever and often begins on the chest and abdomen and spreads all over the body. Reye's syndromeYou probably know you should never give aspirin to children under 16, except on a doctor's advice.
This life-threatening condition may affect children who take medication containing aspirin during a viral illness.
Reye's syndrome has become very rare since the aspirin health warnings were issued in the 1980s. It most commonly causes clusters of tiny blisters on the skin that ooze and form a golden crust.
RingwormYet another skin infection, ringworm is actually caused by a fungus - no worms involved.
The fungus spreads easily from child to child, so sharing combs, brushes, towels and clothes should be avoided. The flu more commonly causes high fever, chills, body aches, extreme fatigue and nausea or vomiting. While most children get better on their own, the flu can lead to serious complications like pneumonia, especially in younger children. Nasal spray flu vaccination is offered to all children aged 2, 3 and 4 years old and to those children in primary school years 1 and 2. It’s also recommended for children aged 2 to 17 years old who have long-term health conditions. Flu jab vaccination is offered to children aged 6 months to 2 years who have long-term health conditions. Seasonal allergiesSeasonal allergies, like hayfever, are not an infection, but a reaction to microscopic particles like pollen (seen here in pink). Symptoms may include sneezing, watery eyes and a runny or stuffy nose and may only occur in spring or autumn.



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