Common Health Issues for School Kids

What are the most common health issues for preschool and primary school age children and what are their symptoms and treatments?

As many parents will already know, the most common health issue for small children are infections: viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic. This also incorporates infestations with insects like lice and scabies. Many infections and infestations are highly transmissible.

The bacteria that cause conjunctivitis and the common viruses that cause colds and influenza are easily spread by coughing, sneezing, touching and sharing food or drink. Many infections are passed even prior to the child developing symptoms.

The symptoms of infection include:

  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Sore ears
  • Headaches

Most viruses last about three to five days, though influenza and some more serious infections can take weeks to resolve. There are few anti-viral medications available and these are not commonly used in children.

The main management of viral infections is to make sure your child is not developing any serious complications, like dehydration, and to treat the symptoms to make your child comfortable.

Bacterial infections like impetigo (school sores) usually require oral antibiotics and good hygiene to stop the spread.

Fungal skin infections of the skin (like tinea) require a few weeks of treatment with anti-fungal cream, plus measures to keep the skin cool and dry.

Infestations by lice and scabies have specific treatments with lotions and measures to reduce the number of the creatures in the bed, clothes and hair.

To help prevent diseases in children, immunisation, good hand washing hygiene, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and not sharing food and drinks is critically important. These measures may help to keep parents well through those first few years of school, too.

Dr Alanna Horadam Principal, Cremorne Medical Practice

Words by Dr Alanna Horadam

Guest Contributor