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Going Viral: 5 of the Most Common Illnesses Spread Among Young Children

Dec 2, 2015


'Tis the season for holiday music, warm mugs of hot chocolate, and...nasty viral infections. Unfortunately, being cooped up during the winter months leaves many opportunities for young children to spread diseases. Viruses and bacteria vary in their infectious qualities: some may confine themselves to a single child, while others sweep through a classroom swiftly. Look for signs of these five common illnesses to keep your child healthy this year.

Common Cold

As its name suggests, many children fall ill with the common cold each year. The disease is caused by a virus, meaning that there’s no medicine to cure the infection. Symptoms may include coughing, congestion, mild fever and a sore throat. Treat the common cold by giving your kid plenty of fluids and encouraging him or her to rest. Saline drops or nasal sprays may be helpful to keep nasal passages moist, as is a cool-mist humidifier. If your child is complaining of pain, offer ibuprofen or acetaminophen (following package instructions or your Peconic Bay Medical Center doctor’s advice).

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by coxsackievirus. You’ll know your child has the disease if you see red, blistering sores on the hands and feet. The virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, fecal matter and touching contaminated surfaces. Since it’s highly contagious, keep your child home until the symptoms have passed.


Signs of the flu include body aches, headache, chills, sore throat, fever and cough. Some children may also experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. There is no cure for the flu, but the annual flu vaccine can prevent your child from getting sick. Schedule it early in the season to avoid contracting the flu virus.


Pinkeye may be caused by several types of bacterial or viral infections. Symptoms include redness, blurred vision and yellowish discharge. Bacterial forms can be treated with antibiotic drops.


Popularly known as the stomach flu, gastroenteritis is miserable for all involved. There are several viruses that cause the disease, but norovirus is a common culprit. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and significant stomach pain. The best treatment is to wait it out, ensuring that your little one gets plenty of fluids. If your child spikes a high fever, experiences severe pain or becomes dehydrated, you should contact your doctor.

When you need care from the best Long Island hospitals, look no further than Peconic Bay Medical Center. Our pediatricians can help your child get back on the track to good health.