Sick children - The most common childhood diseases - What to do!

Common childhood illnesses: A guide for parents of young children

We understand that nothing can be more worrying than when your child feels unwell. Knowledge is power, and by recognizing the signs and symptoms, you can be better prepared to provide the best care.

The common cold

Colds, caused by several different viruses, are one of the most common illnesses among children. Especially in the early years when children start kindergarten, they are exposed to a variety of new bacteria and viruses. Kindergartens are known as germ havens, which means that children often catch colds there. Although colds can be troublesome, they build a child's immunity over time.

Symptoms: Sniffling, sneezing, sore throat, cough.
Prevention: Good hand hygiene, avoid close contact with people with colds.
Treatment: Rest, fluids, nose drops. Hugs and patience.
What can you do as a parent if your child is affected? As a parent, you can make sure the child rests, offer pain relief if needed, and always monitor the child's general condition. In case of concern or worsening symptoms, medical attention should always be sought.

Ear infection

Otitis, an inflammation of the middle ear, is common among young children, especially those aged 6 months to 2 years. This disease often develops after a viral infection such as a cold. Children who spend a lot of time in groups, such as in kindergartens or playgroups, are at higher risk as the infection spreads easily among children.

Symptoms: Earache, fever, crying.
Prevention: Avoid bath water getting into the ear.
Treatment: Visit a doctor for possible antibiotics. Heat can relieve pain.

What can you do as a parent if your child is affected? As a parent, you can make sure the child rests, offer pain relief if needed, and always monitor the child's general condition. In case of concern or worsening symptoms, medical attention should always be sought.

Stomach flu

Stomach flu is mainly caused by viruses or bacteria and is one of the most contagious diseases among children. It spreads quickly in environments where children play close together, such as kindergartens or schools. Children who do not wash their hands regularly, especially after using the toilet or before meals, are particularly vulnerable.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever.
Prevention: Good hand hygiene, avoiding contact with sick people and, in some cases, vaccination (e.g. against rotavirus).
Treatment: Symptomatic treatment, including fluid replacement and rest.
What can you as a parent do if your child is affected:

- Fluid replacement: Keep your child hydrated. Give small amounts of fluids often, such as oral fluid replacement solutions (available in pharmacies). Avoid juices and soft drinks as they can make diarrhoea worse. For older children, clear liquids such as water and broth can also be helpful.
- Food: Gently introduce easily digestible foods when the child starts to feel better, such as rice, bananas and toast.
- Monitoring: Pay attention to signs of dehydration, such as dry lips, decreased urine output, sunken eyes or lethargy.
- Hygiene: Given the contagiousness, make sure your child washes their hands regularly, especially after using the toilet or before eating. If your child still uses a diaper, change it often and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Medication: Avoid giving your child anti-diarrheal medicines without first consulting a doctor.
- Medical care: If there are signs of severe dehydration, such as sunken eyes, dry lips or reduced tear or urine production, or if you are concerned about your child's general condition, seek medical attention immediately.


Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways that can lead to breathing difficulties. It often appears early in life, and while the causes can vary, environmental factors, allergens and genetics play a role. Children living in urban areas or houses with pets or smokers may be particularly vulnerable. Kindergartens and schools with poor air circulation can also contribute to symptoms in sensitive children.

Symptoms: Shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, pressure or pain in the chest.
Prevention: Avoid known triggers, follow up with regular doctor's visits and use preventive inhalers as prescribed.
Treatment: Use fast-acting bronchodilator inhalers when needed, and follow your doctor's recommendations for long-term control medication.
What can you do as a parent if your child is affected:

- Medication: Always have your child's fast-acting inhaler available and follow your doctor's advice on how and when to use it. If your child has an asthma action plan, follow it carefully.
- Monitoring: Pay attention to warning signs that may indicate that your child's asthma is getting worse, such as increased coughing, waking up at night due to asthma symptoms or increased need for a reliever inhaler.
- Avoid triggers: Learn what triggers your child's asthma and try to reduce exposure to these triggers. This could be anything from pollen and dust to cold air or strenuous activities.
- Rest: After an asthma attack, your child may feel tired. Make sure they get enough rest.
- Medical care: If your child's symptoms don't improve despite the use of a fast-acting inhaler, or if you're worried about your child's breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Asthma requires proactive management and it's important for parents to recognize the early signs of deterioration to prevent serious attacks.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, usually after a cold or flu. Children, especially the younger ones, have narrower airways, making them more susceptible to inflammation. Places with a high concentration of children, such as kindergartens or schools, can quickly become sources of infection, especially during cold months.

Symptoms: Persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fever.
Prevention: Avoid smoky environments.
Treatment: Rest, fluids, possible medication.
What can you as a parent do if your child is affected?: Give the child a quiet environment to rest, keep the child hydrated, and monitor the fever. A humidifier or breathing in steam from a hot shower can also help dissolve mucus and relieve the cough.


Eczema, a chronic skin condition, leads to itching, dryness and inflammation. It can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children who live in cold or dry climates, or those with allergies, may be more likely to develop eczema. Even contact with irritants in kindergarten, such as detergents or certain toys, can trigger outbreaks.

Symptoms: Redness, itching, scaly skin.
Prevention: Emollient cream, avoid irritants.
Treatment: Emollient cream, cortisone cream.


Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, used to be a real childhood disease before vaccines were introduced. It spreads easily, especially in group settings such as schools or kindergartens. While most children get mild symptoms, it can be very uncomfortable with itching and fever.

Symptoms: Itchy blisters, fever.
Prevention: Vaccination.
Treatment: Anti-itching agents, avoid scratching.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, and it is more common in girls than boys. Bacteria, usually from the gut, can enter the urethra and reach the bladder. Children who are reluctant to go to the toilet, which may be common in a school setting or kindergarten, may be at increased risk of UTI.

Symptoms: Pain when peeing, fever.
Prevention: Good hygiene, peeing regularly.
Treatment: Doctor's visit for antibiotics. Extra fluids.


Fever itself is not a disease, but a natural reaction of the body to an infection. It can be scary to see your child with a high temperature, but it's the body's way of fighting disease. Daycare centers and schools, where children come into close contact with each other, are often sources of infection for diseases that can lead to fever.
Symptoms: Heat, fatigue, chills.
Prevention: Hard to avoid but keep track of symptoms.
Treatment: Rest, antipyretics if needed. Cooling.

Whooping cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough, caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, is a serious respiratory disease that can be particularly dangerous for babies. Despite the availability of a vaccine, outbreaks are still common, especially in school settings where children come into close contact with each other.

Symptoms: Long coughing attacks, "whooping" sound when taking a breath after a coughing attack.
Prevention: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent whooping cough. It is part of the general childhood vaccination program in many countries. Good hand hygiene and avoiding contact with sick individuals can also reduce the risk of spread.
Treatment: Antibiotics can be given to reduce the severity and contagiousness of the disease. Symptomatic treatment, such as cough medicine, can help relieve symptoms.
What can you as a parent do if your child is affected? In addition to the medical treatment, keep your child at home to prevent spread. Make sure your child gets enough rest and fluids. Use a humidifier in the child's room to relieve respiratory symptoms. In case of severe breathing difficulties, seek immediate medical attention.


Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. Despite the availability of effective vaccines, outbreaks still occur, especially in communities with low vaccination coverage. Schools and kindergartens can become quick sources of infection if an outbreak occurs.

Symptoms: Fever, cough, red eyes, sensitivity to light, and a red rash that starts on the face and spreads.
Prevention: Vaccination with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is the best protection against measles. Avoid contact with infected people and practice good hand hygiene.
Treatment: There is no specific treatment for measles. Symptomatic treatment, such as antipyretics and rest, is recommended. It is important to stay hydrated and to avoid light if you are sensitive to light.
What can you as a parent do if your child is affected? First of all, keep your child isolated at home to prevent spread. Offer your child fluids frequently and make sure they get rest. A dark room can reduce light sensitivity. If you suspect measles, call the health information service or your health center before visiting to inform them of the suspicion, so that the necessary precautions can be taken to avoid further spread.

Rubella (German measles)

Rubella, caused by the rubella virus, is another disease that is mostly controlled by vaccination, but it can still appear. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause serious birth defects.

Symptoms: Light rash, mild fever, swollen lymph nodes.
Prevention: The MMR vaccine also provides protection against rubella. Staying away from people who have the disease and good hand hygiene can reduce the risk of infection.
Treatment: There is no specific treatment for rubella. Symptomatic treatment, such as rest and antipyretics, can help.
What can you do as a parent if your child is affected? Keep your child at home to reduce the risk of transmission to others, especially pregnant women. Give the child pain relief if needed and make sure they get enough rest. Keep a regular check on the child's general condition and contact the health center if you are concerned.

Remember that as a parent, you know your child best. If you are worried, do not hesitate to seek medical help. There is no shame in being extra careful when it comes to your child's health. Be present, give lots of love, and never hesitate to give your child an extra hug during these tough times.