Childhood illnesses are a consistent challenge for parents and caregivers often demanding immediate medical care to secure a child’s health and well-being. While some mild illnesses resolve independently, others require prompt medical attention. According to the ABS 2022 National Health Survey (NHS), approximately45%of children aged 0-14 had one or more chronic conditions. In recent years, telehealth has evolved as a useful tool in helping to manage some childhood illnesses efficiently. Today, let’s delve into 6 most common childhood illnesses and how telehealth can help us deal with them.

Sore throat

Sore throat is a common ailment in children. It refers to discomfort, irritation, pain, or itchiness in the throat, usually caused by inflammation of the throat tissues. However, it can also occur due to bacterial or viral infections, allergies, environmental factors, or irritants. Viruses cause 95% of sore throats in children younger than 5 years, although bacterial infections like strep throat are also significant. They can differ in seriousness from minor discomfort to extreme pain that hinders eating and swallowing.

Symptoms:

Here is a list of some of the most common sore throat symptoms in children:
  • Pain and discomfort in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing food or liquids
  • Coughing
  • Redness / Swelling in the throat
  • Change in their voice tone
  • Fever
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck

Diagnosis:

Diagnosing sore throats in children involves thoroughly evaluating signs and symptoms and potential contributing factors. Usually, a healthcare provider begins by conducting a physical examination, concentrating on the throat and neck. They may review signs of infection such as swelling or redness and examine the tonsils. Based on the intensity and duration of symptoms they may prescribe throat swabs for strep throat or other bacterial infections. Treatment differs based on the diagnosis but frequently includes rest, increased intake of fluids, and over-the-counter medicines. Parents should seek medical help if their child’s sore throat is acute, prolonged, or accompanied by fever, rash, or difficulty breathing and swallowing.  

How can telehealth help with sore throats in children?

Telehealth facilitates immediate evaluation and treatment of sore throats in children while ensuring convenience and decreasing exposure to other illnesses in healthcare settings. Healthcare experts can analyse the symptoms and appearance of the throat via video call and advise parents accordingly. If required, prescriptions for antibiotics and other medicines can be electronically sent to the pharmacy without requiring an in-person visit. Telehealth allows hassle-free follow-up appointments to track the child's progress, ensuring quick alterations in treatment if needed. It is very convenient for families living in remote areas or those with transportation problems as they can access medical advice without travelling to the clinic. However, if the symptoms are severe and the child has difficulty breathing or swallowing, they should attend the emergency department immediately.

Click here for a virtual consultation with a registered health practitioner to discuss the symptoms. 

Ear pain

Ear pain in children may arise from different sources, the most common being middle ear infections (otitis media), outer ear infections (otitis externa), or due to build-up earwax. In Australia, otitis media is a common issue among children, with millions of cases reported annually. Immediate assessment by a doctor is essential to precisely identify the underlying cause and start proper treatment to reduce discomfort and prevent complications.

Symptoms:

Some common symptoms of ear pain in children are as follows:
  • Irritability or crying, usually when lying down.
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tugging or pulling the ear repeatedly
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Irritation or itching inside the ear
  • Fluid discharge

Diagnosis:

Diagnosing ear pain in children involves a systematic approach by healthcare providers. They begin with a detailed study of the child’s symptoms and a physical ear examination. They may evaluate the child’s responsiveness to sound and assess symptoms such as nasal or throat congestion. Based on their findings, they may prescribe further tests like tympanometry (to review middle ear function), or a culture of ear discharge to confirm the presence of bacteria or viruses. After a thorough evaluation, they may recommend suitable treatment strategies for quick relief.

How can telehealth help with ear pain in children?

Telehealth enhances healthcare accessibility. Parents and caregivers can contact healthcare providers without travelling, especially if the child is in pain and discomfort. Healthcare providers can assess ear pain symptoms via video calls and educate parents on home care strategies. If required, telehealth consultations can lead to in-person visits for specialist care if the child’s symptoms are severe.

Common cold and cough

Common colds and coughs are prevalent respiratory illnesses in children. Children usually get exposed to colds and coughs during colder months or when they are in close contact with others, like at school or a park. According to a survey by the National Library of Medicine, of 7670 children, 10% coughed more than other children, 69% coughed usually with a cold, 34% to 55% had age-related coughing without colds, and 25% had night-time cough. It is crucial to closely track the symptoms and consult a healthcare provider if they are severe and persistent.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of common cold and cough include the following:

Diagnosis:

Diagnosing the common cold and cough in children typically involves recognising characteristic symptoms along with the accompanying signs if any. However, it is important to keep in mind that a virus usually causes a common cold and may not require antibiotics. Treatment typically focuses on relieving techniques like taking proper rest, adequate hydration, usage of saline nasal drops, or over-the-counter medications.

How can telehealth help with common cold and cough in children?

Telehealth can be useful for treating common colds and coughs in children by offering easy access to healthcare professionals without needing an in-person doctor’s visit. Parents can easily discuss their child’s symptoms with healthcare providers and receive guidance on home care measures. Telehealth also permits timely oversight of the child’s condition, allowing for alterations and adjustments in treatment if symptoms persist or worsen. The telehealth platform is not only beneficial for families but also ensures quick and appropriate care for children experiencing colds and coughs. Know more about the ease of talking to a registered doctor online

Skin rash

A skin rash is any abnormal change in the texture, colour, or appearance of the skin. It may appear as red, irritated areas, raised lumps, blisters, or scaling. Rashes can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergic responses to chemicals or plants, infections (viral, bacterial, or fungal) such as chickenpox or hand foot and mouth disease, autoimmune disorders such as eczema or psoriasis, drugs as well as exposure to irritants. According to a survey conducted by the National Library of Medicine, approximately 60% of eczema cases develop in the first year of life, and it can persist to adolescence and adulthood.

Symptoms: 

Depending on the underlying reason and form of rash, skin rashes can have a variety of symptoms, but frequent ones include:
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Texture changes where the skin appears to be rough or scales with raised lumps.
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Warm skin
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Peeling or cracking of the rash
  • Generalised symptoms like fever, headache or fatigue.

Diagnosis: 

Skin rashes are diagnosed with a comprehensive physical exam, a medical history review, and, in rare cases, skin testing such as biopsies or allergy tests. More blood tests or imaging may be required to detect underlying reasons, such as infections or autoimmune illnesses. A timely and precise diagnosis is critical for effective therapy, which may involve drugs, topical therapies, lifestyle changes, or treating underlying medical issues.

How can a virtual consultation help with skin rashes in children?

A virtual consultation for skin rashes in children allows clinicians to visually inspect the rash, discuss symptoms and medical history with parents, and make an initial diagnosis and treatment suggestions. It is handy for families, providing prompt advice on home care, prescription use, and when to seek additional examination if necessary. Virtual visits can help with early intervention, eliminate needless visits to healthcare institutions, and ensure that children get the care they need for their skin disorders right away. However, if there are other concerning symptoms associated with a skin rash such as a high fever, nausea, vomiting or neck stiffness, the child should be seen in the emergency department immediately.

If you need to discuss the symptoms of skin rash in your child with a licensed GP in Australia, do so without stepping out through telehealth

Fever

A fever is a transient rise in body temperature that generally exceeds the normal range of 37°C. A typical immunological response to infections or other disorders causes the body to fight microorganisms more efficiently. Fevers can also be caused by inflammatory disorders, certain drugs, or excessive heat.  While many fevers in older children are not serious, fevers in infants and young children may require medical attention. Mild fevers may be treated with rest, drinks, and over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, severe or persistent fevers, particularly in infants or young children, may necessitate medical care to discover the underlying cause and treatment.

Symptoms: 

Symptoms commonly associated with fevers are:
  • Increased body temperatures
  • Headaches and muscle pains.
  • Sweating 
  • Shivering and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability 
  • Flushed skin
  • Dehydration

Diagnosis:

A physical exam, a review of the patient's medical history, and blood testing are used to diagnose fever and detect infections, inflammatory markers, or other underlying causes. Additional tests, such as imaging or cultures, may be required depending on symptoms and physical findings to diagnose the specific condition. Prompt diagnosis aids in the selection of suitable treatment, such as fever-reducing medication and determining the root cause.

How can an online doctor consultation help with fever in children?

An online doctor consultation for fever in children allows for a remote assessment of symptoms, a review of medical history, and personalised advice on how to manage fever and related symptoms. Doctors can recommend suitable medications, home care measures, and whether to seek additional medical attention based on the severity of the symptoms. It is convenient for parents and provides timely advice for their children's health requirements, however, the limitations of telehealth include the inability to perform physical examinations or certain tests.

Allergies

An allergy is an overactive immunological reaction to a chemical that is normally harmless to most individuals. When someone with an allergy comes into touch with an allergen (such as pollen, pet hair, certain foods, or drugs), their immune system overreacts and produces antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE). Allergies can develop at any age and range from moderate to severe, necessitating allergen avoidance and, in some cases, medicine to alleviate symptoms.

Symptoms:

Allergy symptoms vary according to the allergen and the individual's susceptibility. Common symptoms include:
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Skin reactions such as itching, hives and eczema.
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Swelling around the face, lips, tongue and neck.
  • Digestive problems include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  • Anaphylaxis is characterised by difficulty breathing, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness

Diagnosis: 

To diagnose allergies, a complete medical history is required to identify triggers, followed by skin prick tests or blood tests (specific IgE tests) that confirm allergens. In certain circumstances, oral food challenges or elimination diets are utilised. This approach aids in identifying allergens that cause symptoms such as sneezing, itching, or rashes. Long-term treatment options include allergy avoidance, medications such as antihistamines, nasal sprays, or allergen immunotherapy.

How can telehealth services help?

Telehealth services can give patients easy access to healthcare specialists for allergy diagnosis and management. They enable remote consultations to discuss symptoms, examine medical history, and conduct allergy testing such as skin pricks or blood tests. Telehealth allows doctors to administer medications, offer allergy management techniques, and track treatment success from the comfort of their own homes, increasing access to specialised care and minimising the need for in-person visits.

So, childhood ailments are a regular problem for parents, but telehealth provides a modern solution to enhance healthcare accessibility and convenience and guarantee a swift response. By using telehealth services, parents can obtain professional advice and assistance in managing common childhood illnesses and safeguarding the health and wellness of their children more effectively.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.