As parents, it can get overwhelming and stressful when your kid falls sick over and over again. No matter how we try to protect our kids, they still manage to catch something. It's like an endless cycle of sniffles and coughs and you just can\u2019t seem to catch a break.\u00a0 Today we have with us Dr. Rakhee Yadav, a Paediatrician from Ara Damansara Medical Centre to talk to us about childhood illnesses and what we can do for our kids. Q1. What are childhood illnesses, and why does my child fall sick again and again? Dr. Rakhee: There are many common childhood illnesses and most of them are contagious in children. The single most common illness that we see in children these days is the common cold. And the other types of common illnesses that we also see regularly are illnesses such as stomach flu; eczema; asthma; pink eye or what we call conjunctivitis; head lice; hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD); chickenpox and of course allergies. A child\u2019s immune system is still developing, and as they get exposed to all kinds of new germs outside their home, their body is unable to fight the infection properly as would an adult\u2019s body. So, each time they fall sick, their immune system learns to recognise these germs that they are exposed to which boosts their immunity the next time they are exposed to it. Their immune system learns better how to fight off these infections, and they will be less susceptible to falling ill the next time. Besides that, another reason why kids seem to fall sick a lot is because of hygiene. Children are more likely to pick things up from the floor and put them into their mouths or stick their hands without washing into their nose, eyes and mouth, introducing all kinds of germs into their bodies. They play with dirt and all that. So, as parents, we are the ones that have to tell them, \u201cOkay, you have to go clean up\u201d or \u201cYou should go wash your hands.\u201d\u00a0 They are also exploring different textures and different environments, so for them, everything is a new thing. The good thing about COVID-19 is children have learned how to be more aware of their hand hygiene. They are more aware of things like hand sanitisers, washing their hands frequently. So, that\u2019s something that has been incorporated even more often. Especially in schools and daycares and preschools.\u00a0 Q2. How often do kids fall sick? Is it normal that my child is sick so often? Dr. Rakhee: The average child will get sick, usually the common cold, around 6 to 8 times a year depending on how often they are exposed to these germs. While this seems a lot, the good thing is that by the time they reach school-going age, it should reduce to about 5 to 6 times a year, and subsequently when they are teenagers, they would have developed a defence system which is almost the same as the adult\u2019s level and they will catch a cold maybe around 4 times a year. As well as colds, children do get illnesses such as diarrhoea-type illnesses like the stomach flu, with and without vomiting and some sort of tummy bugs as well, around 2 to 3 times a year. Some children are more susceptible to high fevers when they get a cold, or others might have a particularly sensitive tummy and they develop diarrhoea easily.\u00a0 Children who attend daycare or school are more likely to pick up more respiratory infections than those who stay at home. I\u2019m sure you know that if you send your child to school, you are going to anticipate that they would definitely be getting sick more often, they will go and see their doctors more often. But that\u2019s just them building up their immune system. Building up defenses by their own immune system takes time and does not happen overnight. When the daycare children grow older and they enter primary schools with their peers who did not attend daycare as much as them, these children are actually less vulnerable to the colds than those who did not. So, that\u2019s actually a good thing. A period of intense exposure to certain illnesses at daycare helps strengthen children\u2019s immune systems as they get sick less often later on in life. That doesn\u2019t mean that a child who doesn\u2019t fall sick often when they are younger will have lower immunity. Your immune system is composed of various cells. So, it continues to build even when you are not exposed to illnesses so often. Everybody is exposed to different germs at different levels and in different environments. So, you are still developing a good immune system and it also follows the age of the child. Q3. Is it an infection or allergy? A cold or flu? Dr. Rakhee: Infections can be caused by many types of germs like we all know, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites; and they can spread from one to another. Allergy, however on the other hand is the body\u2019s response to an allergen and is not considered contagious. Symptoms of an allergy are usually sneezing, coughing or itching with no fever present. But, an infection is usually accompanied by fever, chills, body aches, sore throats and a sort of persistent coughing. While the common cold or influenza can both hit your child hard; it depends on their age, one of the biggest differences in the common cold is that it is quite gradual while the flu or influenza is a sudden onset. A fever is very rare in the common cold, it might happen, you might have a low-grade fever on the first two days while in the influenza kind of children, generally is accompanied by persistent high fever. So, sudden onset of high fever, associated with weakness, body aches. And in younger children, poor appetite. The cough is usually more persistent, more constant and sometimes even more chesty in the influenza lot as compared to the common cold. And those who have influenza usually develop a little bit of chest discomfort as well. Q4. What can I do to improve the general health of my child? Dr. Rakhee: That\u2019s a very common question I get, especially in my clinic. Our health is mainly influenced by exercise, rest and most importantly, our diet. As we all know, Malaysia's diets are not exactly the best diets in the world. But we do what we can. Encouraging your child to lead an active lifestyle instead of just doing sedentary activities is very important. Incorporating movements into their play, bringing them out to play at least 1-2 hours a day is essential. Exercise increases the blood flow in our body and that can help clear bacteria out of your airways much faster.\u00a0 While being active is essential, it is equally just as important to ensure that your child gets enough rest at night. Make sure they sleep at night early, don\u2019t have this late night out suppers that Malaysians\u2019 lifestyle always has. Why is this important? It\u2019s because, during sleep, our body produces T-cells. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a critical role in our body\u2019s immune response. The better sleep we get, the more T-cells are produced; which helps fight off infections more effectively. So, adequate sleep is absolutely essential to a healthy lifestyle. However, the most important thing, as I have mentioned earlier, is of course our diet. 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut. So, keeping our gut healthy is the fastest way to improve the health of our children. A synbiotic is a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that beneficially affects the gut by improving the survival and activity of beneficial microorganisms. Some examples of probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus LA5 and Bifidobacterium lactis BB12, together with chicory inulin which is prebiotic, together they help with a healthy gut. We also need adequate vitamins and minerals as part of a healthy and balanced diet to ensure our immune system runs smoothly. Probiotics are different types of microorganisms and you see in different packaging, it says millions and billions. So the more we have, the better it is. But, it\u2019s important for us to have the right strain of probiotics. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are foods for probiotics. So, it\u2019s sort of providing good microorganisms for your gut and you are also giving them food, so they don\u2019t run out of what they are supposed to do for your body. So, the combination and how they work together is essential.\u00a0 Most children gain most of their nutrition from a healthy and balanced diet but there are a small group of children who may benefit from a supplement to boost their immunity during certain periods, especially when they are unwell. If your child is not eating well, do consult your paediatrician or physician for a thorough nutritional assessment.\u00a0 https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vZEOg5rpNR-g As parents, we want to ensure our children grow healthy with a strong immunity. BiO-LiFE full range of Kid\u2019s Wellness products can help children\u2019s general wellbeing by providing essential nutrients needed. BiO-LiFE A.B. 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