We often think of the winter months as the most common months for viral and bacterial illnesses. However, many of these illnesses occur throughout the year, some are just more prevalent during certain times of the year. While many of these illnesses can have “classic” signs and symptoms, they can often vary from to child to child. There are some to be on the lookout for, especially with children that attend daycare or are in any time of school setting. The attached chart outlines some illnesses to be aware of. It is important to note that all children, when able, should receive immunizations according to the schedules recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While immunizations do not protect against many of the illnesses that are listed in the chart (only Pertussis), they do prevent against other serious illnesses that luckily are no longer highly prevalent in our communities due to the improvement in vaccination rates. This does not mean, however, that these illnesses do not still exist.
One of the best ways to prevent many contagious illnesses is to practice good hand washing. According to the CDC, you should wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. When you lather your hands with soap, make sure to pay attention to the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails, as well. A good lather should take about 20 seconds (about the time it takes to hum the entire song of “Happy Birthday” twice). After you rinse your hands, make sure to dry them using a clean towel, or air dry. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the next best option, although they do not eliminate ALL types of germs. These should be kept out of the reach of children as they contain alcohol. Another important step that can help prevent the spread of illness is to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. You can start to teach your little ones how to do this, as well!
Please keep in mind that the attached chart does not replace the advice and opinion of the medical professional caring for your child, nor is meant to be a diagnostic tool. It is merely meant to inform you of common childhood illnesses. If you think your child may have one of these or if you have any questions about your child, it is important that you reach out to your child’s primary care provider. With any illness, please seek medical attention for any concerns, regardless of the diagnosis.