Recognizing Childhood Illnesses

Recognizing Childhood Illnesses

Perhaps the least pleasant thing about having children is the childhood diseases that come with the territory. As much as we parents try to protect our little guys from getting sick or feeling unwell, there is only so much we can do. Children simply get sick – often from each other – and rather than be panicked and confused when it happens, we can alternately be educated and prepared to do what is needed.

Because most new parents don’t know hot to recognize or respond to common diseases – What is going on? Is this dangerous? Should I take them to the hospital? Below are descriptions of several of the most common childhood illnesses and some suggestions for actions you can take.

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Chicken PoxSymptoms: The classic mark of Chicken Pox is the red, itchy spots that start on the face and trunk and can later spread all over the body. The spots – which turn into blisters and later scab over – are accompanied by a fever and a general feeling of malaise.  Chicken Pox is a relatively harmless childhood disease in many cases and is usually more of a nuisance than anything else.

Natural Treatment: Dissuade your child from itching to reduce risks of scarring. To help calm itching, spread aloe vera gel over the skin. Oatmeal baths can also help reduce itchiness. Prepare by adding cups of oatmeal to a running bath and stirring the water. Homeopathic remedies such as rhus tox, pulsatilla and belladonna can be helpful. But it is best to speak to a  trained homeopathic doctor to identify the best remedy for your child. A diet high in nutrients – vegetable and fruit juicing is a great idea as are vegetable laden soups – is key. Avoid sugar to speed up recovery time. Probiotics, fish oil and vitamins C and zinc can be helpful.Read more about the healthy benefits of probiotics

RoseolaSymptoms: Roseola is identified as a pink rash that covers the body that is preceded by a moderately high 3-day fever. The rash usually lasts several days to over a week. And starts out on the head and neck and then spreads to the rest of the body. It most often affects children between 3 months and 3 years of age, particularly infants in the 9-12 month period. Roseola is a harmless illness that will go away on its own without any intervention efforts. The telling characteristic of Roseola is that children often don’t appear to be unwell while they have the condition. It is wise to avoid other children during the outbreak as it quite contagious.

Treatment: No special treatment is really necessary other than making the child feel more comfortable during the fever stage.

MeaslesSymptoms: Measles is a respiratory illness that most often affects children under 9

years of age. Measles will usually appear about 1-2 weeks after the

infection has been spread.

A child with measles will experience flu-like symptoms that are then followed by a red, itchy rash. Often red spots will first appear in the mouth, and then they will spread across the body. Eventually the rash will turn from red to brown. The measles rash tends not to be as uncomfortable as that of Chicken Pox. Children often survive measles without any complications whereas adults are at more risk for complications. Symptoms usually last about 14 days.

Natural Treatment: Because measles is caused by a virus, there is nothing to do except boost immunity through vitamins such as A, C, E and zinc. Probiotics can also help. Oatmeal baths can help relieve itching.

Read more about immune system boosting foods

Scarlet FeverSymptoms: Symptoms will often appear 3-8 days after having been exposed to the disease. The child will have a moderate to high fever that is accompanied by a sore throat and pink/red tongue. In addition they will have a rash that is usually found on the neck, groin area, or in their armpits within a day or two of fever and soon spreads over the body. The forehead and cheeks can be flushed.

Treatment: The conventional treatment for Scarlet Fever is antibiotics and children with it should be kept away from other children. Homeopathic remedies such as Belladonna can be helpful. Vitamin C and fish oil are also helpful.

CroupSymptoms: Croup, caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system, is always identified by the harsh cough – usually appearing at night – which sounds like a “barking” seal. Other symptoms such as fever, reduced appetite and runny nose can also follow and with symptoms usually lasting for about one week. Children under 6 years old and particularly those around the age of 2 are more likely to get it. Croup is generally not dangerous unless it begins to interfere with breathing. If breathing is obstructed go to your closest hospital.

Natural Treatment: Homeopathic remedies such aconitum napellis and spongia testa can be helpful. Providing moist air for the child through a humidifier or a hot shower running can be helpful for reducing muscle spasms.  Sit in the bathroom for at least 10 minutes to get the desired result. In colder months some parents find relief by bundling their children up and then taking them out into the cool, crisp air.

Whooping Cough (Pertusis)Symptoms: As the name implies this disease is characterized by a persistent and strong cough that can generate a “whooping” sound. As the condition progresses, coughing fits will increase in intensity and frequency and will often last from 1-6 weeks. Vomiting can also be a problem. Symptoms are often worse at night. If your child is under 12 months old, your doctor should be consulted immediately and hospitalization may be required.

Natural Treatment: Keep in mind that antibiotics are often prescribed by doctors but have little or no effect on the condition. Possible homeopathic remedies are drosera and cuprum. Supplements to boost the immune system such as those mentioned above are also recommended. Acupuncture can also provide relief. Steam inhalations (inhaling over a pot of hot water) are also helpful. You can try adding eucalyptus essential oil drops for added benefit.

Image: nathaniel stern

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Lilian is a registered holistic nutritionist who has worked in the nutrition and corporate wellness fields for the over a decade. She teaches pediatric nutrition, delivers corporate and public nutrition seminars, runs a weight-loss program, does one-on-one nutritional counseling and writes on nutrition and wellness topics. Since having her son Noa, Lilian has taken a keen interest in educating mom’s to be and new parents about proper nutrition during these special periods. Lilian has been featured in Elle Magazine, Flare, Today’s Bride and The Weekly Scoop, MSN/Sympatico’s Weight Loss Challenge and appeared on City TV.