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July 16, 2024

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5 Common Summer Illnesses

Summer colds and other ailments can get kids down. Experts say to skip the antibacterial soap & stick to regular soap to keep germs away.

It’s so weird for kids to get sick in the summer when it’s hot outside … but summer illnesses happen. And, while most parents keep antibacterial soaps at the ready, that's not really what you should do. Germs are best kept away with plain soap and water.

"Antibacterial soap kills most bacteria," says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). "However, it kills bad bacteria and good bacteria. The bad bacteria that survive get stronger and become harder to kill. This is why experts say antibacterial soap is not better than plain soap." In fact, the AAP states that recently, 19 antibacterial ingredients were removed from soaps because of the lack of proof that they are safe.

Hand-washing helps prevent or spread illnesses and plain, slippery soap helps germs slide right off your child's hands. But even if your child’s washing his hands often, being around pools and public places means germs are everywhere. Here are the most common things that get kids down each summer:


Colds and respiratory infections in babies and toddlers are common, and big kids catch’em too. While Mom and Dad may average two to four colds a year, your child may get six to 10, with symptoms that are more severe and longer lasting (sometimes up to two weeks), says Christopher S. Ryder, M.D., author of Take Your Pediatrician With You (John Hopkins Press). Call your pediatrician if your child has a high fever and is wheezing and lethargic.


Gastroenteritis — the stomach flu virus — is the second most common kid illness and it usually starts with fever and vomiting, then diarrhea. More disruptive than dangerous, keep your child as hydrated as possible — even a teaspoon of water every five minutes can help. When your child is able to eat solids again, start out with the BRAT diet: banana, rice, applesauce, toast, until he can move onto more solid foods.


About one in five sore throats in kids are caused by that pesky streptococcus bacteria. Symptoms include sore throat; red, swollen tonsils sometimes streaked with pus; tender lymph nodes in the neck; fever; headache; rash; and, in younger children, stomachache and possibly vomiting. Some parents report a smell associated with strep — that’s the pus in the back of the mouth. The good news is, it’s treatable. If your child shows symptoms, take him to the doctor to have his throat swabbed.


Conjunctivitis is the highly contagious inflammation of the membrane covering the white of the eye and the inner eyelid. The gooey discharge that can come from the infected eye or eyes can form a crust when your child sleeps. Antibiotic eyedrops can nip the illness in the bud and warm compresses will help.


Otitis Media — inflammation or infection of the middle ear — happens often to children because of the small horizontal anatomy within the ear that a child has. Up to 75 percent of children will have an ear infection before age 3 says the Centers for Disease Control. Common symptoms to watch for are runny nose/sore throat, irritability, difficulty sleeping, pulling at the ear, fever, fluid draining from the ear or loss of balance. See your pediatrician if you suspect an ear infection.

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