It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children, so it is hard to witness a child’s discomfort and suffering when they are ill.
While many serious childhood diseases have now been eradicated as a result of immunisation, it is perfectly normal for children and young people to fall ill, sometimes several times in a year.
Fortunately, most illnesses are short-lived and not serious, e.g. coughs, colds and tummy bugs, and after a few days the majority of children will be back on their feet.
While diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough have not been eradicated, routine childhood vaccination means children’s immune systems are now more capable of fighting them. Try not to worry too much if your child does catch one of these unpleasant childhood illnesses – children are resilient and most will make a full recovery without developing complications.
Some children are born with a long-term or chronic condition, which may or may not affect their everyday life. Conditions like asthma and diabetes are relatively common and can usually be treated with regular medication or injections. Many children with chronic illnesses lead completely normal lives with relatively few medical appointments.
Sadly, some children and young people are born – or diagnosed later in childhood – with more serious, and even life-threatening, conditions which may require ongoing and intensive medical care. If the child’s illness means they are missing school on a regular basis, the local education authority may make arrangements for them to learn in another setting, e.g. at home or in hospital.
It can be extremely stressful and tiring to care for a child with long-term illness or disability, or one with additional medical needs; however, it’s important to realise you are a parent carer. This means you may be able to get support from your local council, e.g. respite care.