Common Ailments


  • Is a symptom not an illness in itself.
  • Small rises in temperature (up to 99.4°C) may be often caused, not by illness, but by the child’s activity or the warmth of a room.
  • High Fever can cause
    • Febrile convulsions – uncontrolled twitching or jerking movements. The child may also become unconscious. Most convulsions are of a very short duration lasting not more than a few seconds.
      – Don’t pick up the child.
      – Lay him on his back on a bed.
      – Turn his head to the side so that his tongue does not obstruct the windpipe.
      – Take him to the doctor.

      • Irrationality or deliriousness
      • Nausea
      • Bedwetting

How to treat fever: –

  • Keep the room cool. Open the windows.
  • Dress and cover him lightly.

Do not over-cover a child in the hope of sweating out the fever.

  • Stay calm – he needs your strength.
  • Stay close to the child.
  • Sponge his face, neck and inside of arms and legs with warm water.

Lukewarm water helps blood vessels open up (cold water would make them contract) then cools the blood in them as it evaporates.

  • Try using a fan to cool the child.
  • Give paracetamol paediatric syrup or crocin syrup or nimulid to bring the fever down but check immediately afterwards with the doctor and follow the dosage instructions carefully.

Taking a child’s temperature.

  • Ancillary temparature -Put a thermometer in the armpit or groin. Hold for 3 – 4 minutes For greater accuracy always add one extra degree
  • Rectal readings are more accurate but also more difficult for most parents

The temperature control mechanism of young children is not really well developed. As a result the temperature varies with changes of season. It can also shoot up extremely suddenly and come down as suddenly.

However, fever should never be ignored, as it is an external symptom of an infection or disease.

Vomiting – Vomiting is also not a disease in itself but a symptom.
Vomiting in small babies.

  • Some babies bring up a portion of almost every feed. This is not true vomiting and is rarely harmful to the baby.
  • Projectile vomiting – this is forceful vomiting where the entire feed is forcibly ejected. This kind of vomiting is harmful because it causes dehydration and weight loss. It requires a small operation to put it right.

Vomiting in older babies.

  • Could be a reaction to infection.
  • Digestive problems due to over excitement, stress or anxiety.
  • Travel sickness

Seek medical help if :-

  • The child is sick and vomiting does not make him feel better shortly afterwards.
  • He is sick several times in succession – 3 or more times in half a day.
  • He is sick and also has other symptoms like fever or diarrhoea.
  • He seems exhausted, a poor colour, not hungry and apathetic.

The younger the child, the more important it is to see a paediatrician quickly when vomiting is combined with fever or diarrhoea, as together they often result in dehydration.

The first sign of incipient dehydration in often reduced urination.

Cold and Coughs.

Colds are very common in babies and young infants. These are mostly caused by viruses and not by catching a chill or not covering the child properly.

Colds often get worse before they get better. Lowered resistance can sometimes cause secondary infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or ear infection. Its time to worry if :-

– Fever is there after the 1st day.
– There is a thick greenish-yellow nasal discharge.
– Thick or wheezy cough.
– Sore threat.
– Earache or deafness.
– Seems ill, lethargic and lacking in appetite.

Cough – The commonest cause is a cold. It could also be caused by asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia so don’t try to diagnose and treat a cough yourself.

If the coughing is accompanied by fever, noisy, difficult and painful breathing, pain in the chest, distended nostrils, or rapid breathing, call the doctor immediately.

During a cold

  • Give lots of fluids in small and frequent feeds.
  • Don’t restrict foods like orange juice, yoghurt or rice unless advised by the doctor.
  • Increase humidity with desert coolers or towels soaked in water and hung in a room.
  • Moister the nasal secretion by putting salt water nose drops in the nostril.

Home remedy – Take a glass of water and add half teaspoon salt to it. Boil and cool it. Take a dropper, clean it well and use the salt water for moistening the nostrils.

Nasal drops give short-term relief but end in drying the nostrils even more.

Common childhood diseases.
If you have a sick older child, check out the periods of infection so that you know how long you have to keep him away from the baby.

Disease Incubation period Period of infection When a child can safely mix with others
Chicken pox 14-16 days 1 day before rash appears & 6 days after the rash appears. 7 days after onset of rash.
Measles 7 – 14 days 4 days before and 5 days after rash appears 5 days after appearance of rash.
Mumps 16 – 18 days 1 – 2 days before and 9 days after the onset of swelling of the face. 9 days after appearance of swelling on the face.
Infective hepatitis 15 – 50 days 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after appearance of jaundice. After 1st week but can return to school only after full recovery.
Typhoid 7 – 21 days Variable 5 days after temperature has returned to normal.


Related Links

Choosing a paediatrician
New-born and daily care

Home Remedies
All about dental hygiene

Toddler concerns

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