Most Common Pediatric Illnesses (And How to Prevent Them)

Every parent knows it’s important to teach their child the art of sharing. Sharing is a key part of human interaction and helps us coexist and get along. While sharing toys and supplies is good, your child also shares bacteria and viruses with other kids. This can be especially pronounced at school — those 20-plus children in your kid’s class bring a whole host of germs with them.

While children get sick the same way as adults, they may be susceptible to different germs and illnesses. Because of this, a few illnesses stand out among the pack as the most likely for children to spread. Use the list below to both identify these illnesses and prevent them.

If your youngster isn’t feeling their best, they need the care of their pediatrician. At The Medical Place Family Practice, Tasha Boone, MD, and the rest of our team are dedicated to ensuring the health of your entire family. Dr. Boone is an expert in family medicine and will make your family feel welcome no matter what’s ailing them.

Pediatric illnesses

Almost every child gets sick at least once a year. Illnesses are bound to spread when your youngster is interacting with hundreds of other children and their germs each day. An estimated 164 million school days were missed due to illness last year. 

Factor that out for every student, and you get 4.5 days per child. Kindergartners are more likely to come home sick than older students, with 12 average illnesses/colds per year compared with five.

Strep throat

Strep throat is spread by the streptococcus bacteria, meaning that it’s treatable with an antibiotic. Babies and toddlers are the least likely to contract this disease, which is most often spread through coughs and sneezes. That being said, your child can pick it up from toys or other objects that have been sneezed or coughed on.

Throat pain is the main symptom of strep, and at its worst, the pain can make swallowing and even speaking difficult. Antibiotics typically tackle the illness quickly, bringing relief within 24 hours. While you can’t prevent your child from picking up the illness outside the home, you can keep it from spreading in your home. 

Don’t pick up their used tissues with your bare hands, make sure the child covers their mouth when they cough, and clean any dishes or cups they use in warm, soapy water.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection spread by the coxsackievirus. While not serious, it’s highly contagious and can spread through touch, coughs, sneezes, and fecal matter.

At first, the virus appears like a cold, with symptoms that include fever, sore throat, and poor appetite. Its namesake comes out later on, when painful sores develop in the back of the throat, palms of the hand, and soles of the feet.

Children under 5 are most likely to contract hand, foot, and mouth disease, which usually clears up in 7-10 days without treatment. To prevent picking up hand, foot, and mouth disease, wash your hands thoroughly, don’t share eating or drinking utensils with those infected, and avoid hugs and kisses until the illness has passed.


The dreaded stomach bug is bound to make its way through your child’s school or day care center at least once a year. Norovirus is the most common and well-known cause of gastroenteritis. 

The symptoms of this virus are hard to miss — vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Although everyone is susceptible, children under 5 are the most likely to come down with gastroenteritis.

As with many other viruses, you can only treat the symptoms of gastroenteritis. The virus itself will last a few days. During that time, rest and lots of liquid are the order of the day. If your child is up for eating, try bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (the BRAT diet). 

Gastroenteritis prevention mirrors the protocol for hand, foot, and mouth disease, with two additions. Always make sure your meat is fully cooked, and thoroughly wash all fruits and veggies. 

Is your child showing symptoms of any of the above? Dr. Boone can have them feeling better in no time. Call us, message us here on our website or request an appointment at our West Columbia, South Carolina, office today. 

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