1 They must be able to tolerate a wide range of chemical substances in the environment – and some children develop an allergy. This primarily depends on the child’s genes because allergies run in the family.
2 They are at risk for an infection when they become exposed to bacteria and viruses that are a part of the world around them. Whether a child develops an infection depends on how powerful the bug is as well as the general state of the child’s health.
Once children have had an infection, they usually are immune to that infection. However, there are important exceptions, such as bacterial infections (for instance, a strep throat) and the viruses that are thought to cause the common cold. This explains why your child can get them repeatedly.
Memo: It is common for perfectly healthy children to have as many as 8 virus infections a year and even as many as 100 in their first 10 years of life.
An only child who remains at home and meets few visitors is less likely to catch something than an infant in daycare or with several older siblings who go to nursery or school.
Memo: The child in daycare will have lots of infections early in life, but has less to acquire later. However, an only child who has been protected at home will almost certainly have several illnesses after school starts.
Symptoms & Signs
A symptom is what the patient notices and complains about. A sign is a physical change the doctor notes upon observation and examination.
The signs are usually of more importance than the symptoms. It is what is observed that provides the most valuable information in determining just what kind of illness is present and whether or not it might be serious.
Important: Three behaviour changes strongly suggest an illness:
These three changes are often the first sign that something is wrong although it may be many hours or even days before more evidence develops.
1 Activity: One of the most common indicators that a child is unwell is when there is no interest in doing something that is usually enjoyed. Of course a child may not feel in the mood to be active – or may just be sulking. However, if the change in behaviour is a sign of a developing illness, it will not quickly disappear and other signs will develop.
2 Appetite: A child’s appetite can vary so that a loss of interest in food is not solid evidence of ill health, but it may be one of the early warnings.
3 Attitude: In many children, this is often the most reliable indicator. A child who usually is happy, cheerful and easy to get along with seems to be cranky for no obvious reason. Mood changes are often the result of a fever. BCCE