If there's one thing kids are good at, it's bringing home illnesses from daycare. Common childhood illnesses include colds, middle ear infections, gastroenteritis, school sores, warts, urinary tract infections, all of which have different causes and treatments.
"There are many different types of germs which cause illness and the most common are viruses.
Illness can also be caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites," said Sydney General Practitioner Dr Jill Gamberg.
"All these 'germs' can infect different parts of the body including the upper respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, or the skin. Germs cause disease by disrupting the way the body works," she said.
They do this by multiplying their numbers greatly which then stop parts of the body from working properly. They attack and damage particular parts of the body.
"Most of the time illnesses go away all on their own as our immune systems fight them off, and we just need to support our children through it. Other times children need treatment or medication to get better."
Germs spread mainly by two mechanisms:
Hand to mouth – children put their hands in their mouths or toys in their mouths. They share drink containers or cutlery. Sometimes they forget to wash their hands after using the toilet. Or an adult may not wash their hand after changing a nappy.
Droplets – when people cough and sneeze and do not cover their mouths. It may be because tissues are not used or not used properly. In addition, if toys are not washed after sick kids have played with them.
How do we prevent the spread of illness?
"Effective hand washing is the single best way to prevent illness. A good tip is getting kids to count to 10 while they wash and making sure they clean all parts of their hands, using soap," said Dr Gamberg.
"Exclusion of sick children and staff from school or work. People should stay home when they are sick and not come back until they have recovered completely.
"Immunisation will prevent many serious diseases. People should get all the recommended childhood immunisations," she said.
How do we keep our children healthy in general so that they get sick less often?
Having a healthy diet by eating vegetables and fruit, proteins, good quality fats, and wholegrains. Added sugars, salt, caffeine, and processed foods should also be limited.
Good oral hygiene – brushing our teeth twice daily and seeing the dentist regularly for check-ups
Regular physical activity – 180 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity per day
Getting enough good quality sleep – children need 10-14 (or more) hours per day including naps in the daytime
For more information visit HealthShare, a joint venture with Fairfax to improve the health of regional Australians. Or you can find a specialist near you using the health tool below.