Toddlers are prone to all kinds of health problems – some of which may seem alarming to us, when in fact they’re perfectly normal. This is often a stage when kids are starting to explore and often expose themselves to a lot of germs as a result of touching things or putting things in their mouth that they probably shouldn’t. Below are just some of the health problems that you can expect in these early years.
Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get into the ear. Babies and toddlers commonly experience these infections – in fact, five out of six children will have experienced an ear infection by the time they turn 3 years old. If your child is tugging at their ear and complaining of pain, they likely have an ear infection. In some cases, an ear infection may also result in a fever, temporary hearing loss or temporary loss of balance.
Most ear infections clear up on their own within 3 days. If this is not the case, see a doctor – they may be able to prescribe ear drops to help treat the infection or recommend other options depending on the severity of the infection.
Also known as ‘pink eye’, conjunctivitis causes the eye to become red and inflamed, often as a result of a bacterial infection or allergy. You’ll usually notice redness – your child may also want to keep rubbing their eye and they may develop a crust on the eyelid.
Conjunctivitis may go away on its own after a couple of days. If not, it’s worth seeing a doctor who will be able to prescribe eye drops. Conjunctivitis is rarely a sign of anything serious – in rare cases that it is, a doctor will be able to recommend your child to a specialist.
Gastroenteritis is your typical ‘tummy bug’ caused by bacteria or a virus. Symptoms include diarrhea or vomiting – and possibly cramps and a fever.
Most cases of gastro last no longer than one of two days. However, more serious cases can persist longer. After three days, you should see a doctor to ensure that your child doesn’t have a serious infection.
Impetigo is a skin infection often caused when bacteria gets into sores. Toddlers typically experience it around the mouth or nose.
While impetigo can be very contagious, it is usually not serious and will clear up within 7 to 10 days. Creams can be used to help it heal faster. You should only see a doctor if your child develops a fever or if the sores seem to be getting progressively worse.
Many toddlers experience chest infections. These may result in wheezing and coughing. Asthma is also common in many toddlers, which may result in wheezing and shortness of breath.
It can be worth seeing a doctor if your child is wheezing or having difficulty breathing. They may be prescribed an inhaler and other medication to help restore breathing to normal. Pediatricians may be able to help with more serious respiratory problems – a doctor may recommend you to a specialist if your child is regularly developing chest infections or experiencing chest pain.
Young kids often get head lice – a case of head lice can spread quickly through a school or nursery. You’ll likely notice head lice because your little one will be scratching their head. Alternatively, you may notice it while brushing or washing their hair.
There are over-the-counter treatments that you can buy for head lice that are very effective. In very rare cases, head lice can cause infections – this may be a reason to see a doctor, but usually, there’s no reason to see a doctor about nits.