Common Kids’ Illnesses and What to Watch Out For

Children are naturally prone to illnesses due to their developing immune systems and frequent exposure to germs in school, daycare, and play environments. While most childhood illnesses are mild and resolve on their own, some require medical attention. Knowing what to watch out for can help parents and caregivers manage these illnesses effectively and seek help when necessary. Here’s a guide to some common childhood illnesses and their symptoms.

  1. Common Cold


  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue

What to Watch Out For: The common cold is caused by various viruses and typically lasts 7-10 days. Ensure your child gets plenty of rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications for symptom relief. Seek medical advice from an online GP appointment if symptoms worsen or persist beyond two weeks, or if your child experiences difficulty breathing, high fever, or severe sore throat.

  1. Ear Infections


  • Ear pain
  • Tugging or pulling at the ear
  • Trouble hearing
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

What to Watch Out For: Ear infections are common, especially following a cold. If symptoms persist for more than a couple of days, or if your child has severe pain, high fever, or discharge from the ear, consult a healthcare provider. Antibiotics may be necessary for bacterial infections.

  1. Strep Throat


  • Sudden onset sore throat
  • Painful swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Headache
  • Rash (sometimes)

What to Watch Out For: Strep throat is a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. If your child shows symptoms, especially without typical cold symptoms (like a runny nose), visit a healthcare provider for a strep test. Untreated strep throat can lead to complications like rheumatic fever.

  1. Chickenpox


What to Watch Out For: Chickenpox is highly contagious and can be serious in infants, teens, adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems. The varicella vaccine is effective in preventing chickenpox. Seek medical advice if your child has a high fever, difficulty breathing, or signs of secondary infection (redness, swelling, pus) at the blister sites.

  1. Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)


  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

What to Watch Out For: Ensure your child stays hydrated. Offer small sips of water or oral rehydration solutions frequently. Seek medical attention if your child shows signs of severe dehydration (dry mouth, no tears, sunken eyes), has a high fever, or has blood in their stool or vomit.

  1. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)


  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Gritty feeling
  • Discharge that forms a crust during sleep
  • Tearing

What to Watch Out For: Pink eye can be viral, bacterial, or allergic. Keep your child’s eyes clean and avoid sharing towels or pillows. Consult a doctor if there is significant pain, vision problems, or if symptoms worsen, as bacterial conjunctivitis may require antibiotic eye drops.


While many childhood illnesses are common and typically not severe, it’s crucial to monitor symptoms closely and seek medical advice when necessary. Staying informed about these illnesses and knowing what to watch out for can help you provide the best care for your child and prevent complications. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you are unsure or concerned about your child’s health.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash