Common Ailments (for children)

(for child common ailments see our "Adult Health - Common Ailments" section)

Colds and Flu

The common cold is caused by hundreds of different viruses, and as children have developing immune systems, they can be susceptible to repeated colds. Flu is caused by the influenza virus, which is classified into three different types (A, B and C) constantly mutating into new strains.

The symptoms of a cold can include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, mild fever and tiredness, and will usually last two to four days. Most colds need no treatment, though pain-relieving syrup and simple measures such as decongestant rubs might bring some relief.

The symptoms of flu are more intense, and can include a high fever (39°C or above), headaches, chills, muscle pains, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, cough and sometimes a blocked nose and sore throat.

Children with flu should get lots of rest. Sponging with tepid water can help to bring down a fever. You should also make sure the child drinks plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

If you're worried about your child's health, and if the symptoms persist, contact your GP for advice or call NHS 24 on 111.

Stomach Bugs

Children can often have upset stomachs, and usually this is nothing to worry about as the symptoms will quickly pass. Vomiting in babies and younger children can be caused by feeding problems, travel sickness or gastroenteritis as the result of an infection. They should be encouraged to drink small amounts of water to keep them hydrated.

If vomiting persists, or if the child is also unwell with other symptoms including diarrhoea, headache or abdominal pain, or seems dehydrated, seek medical advice.

Diarrhoea can also be caused by infection, or by other problems where food isn't taken in through the gut properly. Associated symptoms can include wind, abdominal pain, fever and sickness or nausea. Again ensure the child does not become dehydrated, with drinks of water or a rehydrating solution, and if the problems persist, see your doctor.

Last Reviewed: 02/05/2014