One of the biggest public health concerns are childhood illnesses in the Philippines.
Sending your kid off to school for the first time can be exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking. This is because of the possibility that they may get sick or injured when not under your care and supervision.
Playgrounds, classrooms, jeepneys, tricycles, and even armchairs can become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Even if you remind your child about practicing proper hygiene, this does not protect them 100% from contracting illnesses.
Your child can get infected by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, eating contaminated food, or simply breathing in the same air contaminated by an ill person.
Worrying about these things is normal. As a parent, you can take extra precautions in protecting your child by learning first about the most common childhood illnesses in the Philippines and how to prevent them.
Common childhood illnesses in the Philippines
In most countries like the Philippines, communicable diseases take the top spot for the most common illnesses. With the country’s tropical environment and prolonged rainy season, it makes it easy for diseases to spread and for people to become sick. Below are some of the most common childhood illnesses in the Philippines.
According to data by the Department of Health, pneumonia is the leading cause of child mortality among children aged one to four years old, five to nine years old, and 10 to14 years old in 2010.
Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that affects lung function. It is characterized by a productive cough (cough that produces mucus) and difficulty breathing, which is caused by mucus filling up the air sacs in the lungs. This illness is caused by a virus, bacteria, and fungi. Children below five years old are prone to developing pneumonia if they have a pre-existing upper-respiratory condition.
The Philippines is a tropical country with a rainy season that extends for weeks or even months. It is therefore not surprising why dengue fever is one of the most common childhood illnesses in the Philippines. Dengue outbreaks are frequent, because of stagnant water that become breeding grounds for dengue-causing mosquitoes like Aedes aegepti and female Aedes albopictus.
The most common symptoms of dengue fever are:
- high fever
- body pain
- pain behind the eyes
If left untreated, dengue fever can cause more severe symptoms, such as:
- bleeding gums
- severe abdominal pain
- bloody urine
What makes dengue fever dangerous is that it can cause the circulatory system to malfunction, leading to shock and even death, if left untreated.
In 2010, diarrhea was one of the leading causes of child mortality in the Philippines. It can be acquired if a child ingests food or water that has been contaminated.
Diarrhea causes watery stools and excessive thirst. If left untreated, diarrhea can cause extreme dehydration in those infected.
Due to the rainy seasons in the country, flooding in some areas and cities is not uncommon. Floodwater can lead to a considerable increase in the risk of developing leptospirosis, which is a bacterial disease that can occur in both humans and animals.
Leptospirosis is transmitted when an open wound or abrasion interacts with water, moist soil, or vegetation that has been contaminated with the urine of rats in floodwater or streams.
Children with cuts or scratches are at risk, because the bacteria can enter through the wounds. Common symptoms of this infection include jaundice, redness of the eyes, fever, and chills.
Fortunately, many of the childhood illnesses in the Philippines can be prevented and cured, leaving no long-lasting effects on a child’s health. But these diseases must be treated immediately. It is always advisable to consult your doctor for the best treatment plan for your child.
Practices that can protect your child against childhood illnesses in the Philippines
As a parent, one of your topmost priorities is your child’s health and overall well-being. However, this can be tricky, especially since you can not be with your son or daughter 24 hours of the day. Even so, there are still plenty of ways to protect your child.
Incorporate enough fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet
Providing the proper nutrition for your child, which includes ample amounts of fruits and veggies, helps to boost their immune systems.
Citrus fruits like oranges and calamansi are rich with vitamin C. Oranges can be the perfect afternoon snack, while homemade calamansi juice can be a refreshing juice alternative to sugary sodas and juice drinks. Vitamin C can also help fight respiratory ailments.
Avoid street food
Everyone loves a good kwek-kwek (fried quail egg dipped in batter) or fishball after class. However, unsanitary food preparation is common among street food vendors. Contaminated food can cause diarrhea and other intestinal infections. As much as possible, try to prohibit your child from eating these types of food.
Practice proper handwashing and good hygiene
Teaching your child about the importance of handwashing at a young age can help build long-lasting habits that can benefit them in the long run. Proper hand washing is critical in fighting all types of disease, and can prevent children from contracting common childhood illnesses in the Philippines.
Getting soaps in fun scents, or making hand washing fun through song and game can encourage your child to remember to wash their hands. Packing sanitary wipes and rubbing alcohol in their bags can also remind them to keep their hands clean.
Ensure that your child’s vaccines are updated
During your child’s routine check-ups, make sure to ask the pediatrician about vaccines. Updating basic vaccinations against diseases like measles, mumps, pneumonia, etc. can help provide added protection.
Wear rain boots
During the rainy season, always dress your child in a raincoat and rain boots. This is to avoid any risk of developing the cold, or contracting diseases from dirty rainwater.
Fortunately, most childhood illnesses in the Philippines can be prevented by adopting practical tips on maintaining proper hygiene and eating the right food to help boost their body’s defenses.
Diseases and infections are a threat to your child’s health and well-being, which is why parents can never be too cautious. Learning about common childhood illnesses in the Philippines can prepare parents and have them adopt preventive measures to protect their children. If your child gets sick, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.