Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.5: Understand how to support children who are unwell
Learning outcome: Know common childhood illnesses
Assessment criteria: Describe signs and symptoms of common childhood illnesses
It is important for Early Years practitioners to be able to recognise signs and symptoms of common childhood illnesses so that they can provide the appropriate care.
In addition, by identifying common illnesses, Early Years practitioners can ascertain if a child will need to be temporarily excluded from the setting to reduce the spread.
The table below shows the signs and symptoms that may be present in common childhood illnesses.
|Common cold||Fever, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, blocked or runny nose|
|Flu (influenza)||Fever, headache, fatigue, chesty cough|
|Whooping cough||Fever, headaches, fatigue, lethargy, muscle aches, loss of appetite|
|Tonsilitis||Fever, sore throat, swollen glands in neck, difficulty swallowing|
|Stomach bug/food poisoning||Fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, muscle aches, stomach cramps|
|Chickenpox||Fever, itchy spotty rash/blisters, loss of appetite|
|Measles||Fever, cold-like symptoms (see above), sore eyes. This is followed by white spots in the mouth and a red rash on the skin.|
|German measles\Rubella||Fever, cold-like symptoms (see above), sore eyes. This is followed by a red rash on the skin.|
|Mumps||Fever, swollen glands in neck, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite|
|Scabies||Intense itching, raised rash/spots,|
|Scarlet fever||Fever, flu-like symptoms (see above), swollen glands in neck, sore throat, rash, white coating on tongue|
|Hand, foot and mouth disease||Fever, sore throat, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers, raised spots on hands and feet|
|Impetigo (bullous & non-bullous)||Red sores/blisters, usually around the nose and mouth and on the chest which burst to leave crusty patches|
|Ear infections||Pain inside the ear, fever, difficulty hearing, fatigue, loss of appetite, feeling of pressure or itching inside and around the ear|
|Meningitis||Fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, seizures, hypersensitivity to light, rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it, muscle aches (particular around the neck)|
As you can see, several of these illnesses have shared symptoms. For example, almost all illnesses are accompanied by a fever because when the immune system recognises an infection, it raises the temperature to make it more difficult for the pathogen to survive.
It is beyond the scope of the role of an Early Years practitioner to diagnose illnesses – this is the responsibility of a suitably qualified medical professional. But having an understanding of the signs and symptoms of common childhood illnesses can be useful for providing appropriate care and advising parents/carers about where they should go for treatment.