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How to spot and treat 4 common children’s health issues


Tip of the Week 

From a cough that won’t go away to a sore throat they caught from the classroom, children and their vulnerable immune systems can fall victim to common illnesses quicker and more often than adults. However, while these health issues are typical, it is not always easy to identify what they are when symptoms strike. 

According to pediatrician Dr. Nina Shapiro, an important part in understanding a child’s symptoms is also being prepared to help fight back with the right tools at home and to know when it’s time to bring them to see a doctor. 

Alleviating some of the uncomfortable symptoms at the first signs of sickness or discomfort will help your child get back to being a kid faster and can aid their long-term health. When pain and discomfort do strike, knowing the signs and symptoms of some of these common problems can help determine the best course of action. 

1. Ear pain 

Ear pain can be caused by myriad issues, including swimmer’s ear, an existing cold, an ear infection or tooth pain traveling up the jawline, among other things. An over-the-counter pain reliever, elevating the child’s head when sleeping and a warm compress on the ear may help lessen the discomfort. However, if the pain continues to worsen, is accompanied by a high fever and/or swelling and pus exists, the best option is to visit a pediatrician for an in-office exam to determine the exact cause. 

2. Constipation 

According to a recent survey commissioned by Pedia-Lax, nearly 45 percent of parents with children between ages 2 and 11 noted their children experience constipation at least once a month. Recognizing the symptoms of constipation can be tricky depending on the child’s age — especially if they can’t voice their issue. Luckily, there are physical and emotional symptoms to look out for, including less than three bowel movements a week, stomach aches, a decrease in appetite and increased irritability. Shapiro suggests opting for a medicine that’s formulated specifically for children versus an adult formula. To help prevent constipation, encourage your child to eat a well-balanced, fiber-rich diet, drink lots of fluids and speak up whenever they feel they need to use the restroom.

3. Hand, foot and mouth disease 

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a pesky, highly contagious illness often seen in young children — especially during the beginning of the school year when children are back inside in close quarters. It is caused by a virus similar to the cold virus and, as the name suggests, can involve the hands (primarily the palms), the feet (primarily the soles) and the mouth. Telltale signs are sore throat due to sores on the palate and the lips, sores on the palms and sores on the feet. In general, the throat sores tend to give the worst of the symptoms, leading to inability to swallow, severe throat pain and fevers. Kids that refuse to eat or drink due to throat pain can be at risk for dehydration. The treatment plan includes pain medications, drinking cool liquids and rest. 

4. Pink eye

From the bus to the classroom to the playground, children often spend a lot of time in close quarters with their friends. While sharing is an important lesson to learn at a young age, kids will often, unfortunately, share their germs too. Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is spread through hand-to-hand contact, which can transport the highly contagious condition to the eyes. While symptoms like itchy and watery eyes could be mistaken for allergies, watch out for increased yellow or green discharge and a change in color to the whites of the eye, which may indicate pink eye. Over-the-counter eye drops and a warm compress on the eyes can help soothe the irritation at home but, given how fast pink eye can spread to family and friends, it’s always best to head to a doctor for medication. Sometimes doctors will prescribe an antibiotic eye drop if the infection appears to be bacterial and not viral. 

When sickness strikes, it’s important to be armed and ready with not only the knowledge of the common symptoms of these pediatric health issues, but also the best treatment options so your child can get back to the playground in no time. For more information on children’s digestive health, visit 

Family Movie Night 

"The House with a Clock in Its Walls" 

Rated: PG 

Length: 104 mins 

Synopsis: Based on the popular book about a young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle (Jack Black) in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world. 

Book Report 

"What Can a Citizen Do?" 

Ages: 4 – 8 years 

Pages: 40 

Synopsis: Across the course of several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions by different children, we watch how kids turn a lonely island into a community—and watch a journey from what the world should be to what the world could be. 

Did You Know 

Natural disasters in the news today are a good reminder that emergencies can happen at any time even during the school day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that parents follow the following A-B-C’s so that emergencies are less chaotic, children are kept safe, and families can be reunited safely as soon as possible: 

  • Ask how you would be reunited with your child in an emergency or evacuation. For example, if students had to evacuate, where should you go to pick them up? And how would the school notify you in the event of emergency? 
  • Bring extra medication, special foods, or supplies your child would need if you were separated overnight 
  • Complete a backpack contact information card and tuck one in your child’s backpack and your wallet. The card can be downloaded and printed out at

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: How to spot and treat 4 common children’s health issues