Top 8 Illnesses Children Will Get Before The Age Of Two


by Dr. Christopher Haines



Top 8 Illnesses Children Will Get Before The Age Of Two

Kids Health Secrets | Blue Emerald Wellness

Young children can be very susceptible to illness, and most parents will have to deal with at least one of these illnesses before their child turns two. This is even more true if your child attends daycare. It is important for parents to know the symptoms and be able to recognize them early on so that they can seek medical attention as soon as possible. Here are some of the top illnesses young children may get before they turn 2 years old:

top illnesses kids will get before the age of two. Toddler at home sick in bed.


This respiratory virus makes it difficult for a child’s airways to stay open and clear, which leads to difficulty breathing. RSV is also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus and it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in young children. It can affect children at all ages and usually causes mild illness, but can be a more serious disease under the age of two and can be deadly in some cases.

The signs and symptoms of RSV include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing. Risk factors for having difficulty with RSV include being born prematurely, having a weakened immune system, cardiac disease, and being exposed to second-hand smoke. Signs of respiratory distress to look out for in a child with RSV include fast breathing, fast heart beat, grunting, retractions (using muscles of the abdomen, neck, or in between the ribs), nasal flaring, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, and becoming too tired to eat or drink.

If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms, take them to the doctor immediately. Treatment for RSV may include respiratory therapy, and in some cases hospitalization. RSV is not treated with antibiotics.

RSV is very contagious so it is important to keep your child away from other sick children.


Influenza, or the flu, usually occurs in the winter time and is caused by the influenza virus. Influenza is spread through coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, runny nose, and sore throat . Some children may also develop nausea, vomiting , diarrhea , muscle aches, headache and fatigue. These symptoms usually occur within one week after exposure to the virus, but can show up as early as a few days or as long as several weeks. The flu can be very serious for children, especially those who are younger than five years old and have not been vaccinated against the virus. The vaccine has been shown to be safe in kids and has prevented many complications and deaths as the result of Influenza.

If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms, take them to the doctor immediately. Doctors recommend that children get a flu vaccine every year before fall and winter seasons in order to prevent influenza from occurring . Make sure you discuss any history of an egg allergy of Guillain-Barre Syndrome as this may be a contraindication to receiving the vaccination. Also, discuss the need for Tamiflu with your doctor if your child is diagnosed with Influenza. Typically, it has be shown to be effective if started in the first two days of illness, although it is generally only recommended for children that are high risk.

Generally, Influenza can be treated at home with supportive care (fluids, Tylenol, ibuprofen, rest) however if your child is having trouble breathing or swallowing, has severe vomiting that prevents them from keeping liquids down, are dehydrated, have a seizure, have flu symptoms for more than three days in a row, had an asthma attack after they contracted influenza, you should take them to the doctor immediately.

Otitis Media

Otitis Media, or an ear infection, is a common infection of the middle ear. It is caused by bacteria or viruses and usually affects children between the ages of six months and two years old. It is caused by the Influenza virus A or B.

Symptoms of Otitis Media include fever, drainage from the ear, irritability, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and loss of balance. The majority of cases will clear up on their own with antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. Children who have recurrent episodes of Otitis Media or those who do not respond to antibiotic treatment may need to receive long-term antibiotic therapy or may need an evaluation by an otolaryngologist (Ears, Nose and Throat doctor) to be evaluated for ear tubes. Risk factors for developing ear infections include exposure to tobacco smoke, pacifier use past 12 months of age, and attending daycare. Children may develop pain from Otitis Media and can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen for relief.


Croup is a viral illness that causes inflammation of the voice box or larynx. It is typically seasonal in the fall and spring, most commonly caused by a virus called Human Parainfluenza virus, Influenza virus type three, or Adenovirus. Symptoms include an audible whistling sound (stridor) when your child breathes due to narrowing of the windpipe causing it to vibrate. This is usually accompanied by a harsh cough (cough that sounds like a dog or seal), fever, and difficulty breathing. Croup usually gets better on its own within a few days and is not treated with antibiotics. However, if your child’s symptoms are severe or worsening you should contact the doctor immediately as they may need to be treated in the emergency department or admitted for further evaluation and treatment. Treatment for croup in the emergency department includes a medicine called racemic epinephrine, steroids and respiratory support if needed for very severe cases. Racemic epinephrine is typically given only when your child has stridor at rest, and after this treatment your child will likely require observation for a few hours. The steroid is given to decrease swelling below the voice box and allow your child to breath easier.

Croup can recur in some children, so it’s important to keep up with any follow-up visits recommended by the doctor after recovery of this illness. Sometimes a child with croup can develop complications called bacterial tracheitis. This is rare but life-threatening and the hallmark of this illness is usually a course of croup that appears to get better than worsens with recurrent fever and sever croup-like illness. It is treated with antibiotics and typically requires hospitalization and possible intensive care unit level care.

Croup is contagious so it is important to keep your child away from other sick children and avoid daycare or school if they are having symptoms.

Fifth’s Disease

Fifth’s Disease is a viral illness that is most commonly seen in children between the ages of four and fifteen years old. It is caused by the Human Parvovirus B19 and results in a characteristic rash called slapped cheek syndrome. The name “fifth disease” comes from the fifth day after onset of symptoms when the rash begins to appear. Other common symptoms include fever, joint pain, nausea, and muscle aches. While this illness is typically mild in otherwise healthy children, it can cause severe problems for pregnant women who are exposed to the virus or become infected due to their child’s infection. The risk of complications during pregnancy includes miscarriage and early term delivery. Most healthcare providers will test pregnant moms between the second and third month of pregnancy to see if they have become infected with the virus. This is because early testing may not show positive results, but later in a woman’s pregnancy it can cause severe problems for their unborn baby. If you are pregnant during flu season your doctor may recommend that you get vaccinated against influenza.

Another group who should be careful with Fifth’s Disease is children who have sickle cell disease (a blood disorder) or other problems related to their spleen. These patients can develop a serious and potentially fatal complication called acute idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. People suffering from this illness should be kept away from pregnant women for at least six weeks after their symptoms have resolved.

Fifth’s Disease is treated with supportive care and rest. If your child is younger than five years old they may need to be to be evaluated by their pediatrician if their fever cannot be controlled. To reduce the risk of contracting Fifth’s Disease you should wash you and your child’s hands regularly with soap and water especially before eating, after changing a diaper, and using the bathroom.

Pink Eye

Pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is a very common infection of the eye that is caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergy. It can occur in both children and adults but is more common in young children. The most common symptoms include redness, discharge from the eyes, itchiness, and swelling of the eyelids.

Conjunctivitis is contagious and can be spread through contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. It is important to keep your child home from school or daycare until they have been seen by a doctor and started on antibiotics if needed. There are many different causes of pink eye so it is important that you take your child to see their pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis.

Pink eye may be treated with antibiotics if it is caused by a bacterial infection. If your child’s conjunctivitis is viral in nature then it will resolve on its own within a week or so.

Hand Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD)

HFMD is a highly contagious infection that presents with fever, mouth sores, and blisters on the palms of the hands or soles of their feet. It can also cause painful rashes in your child’s armpits or groin area, but these are less common. HFMD is caused by different strains of enterovirus which typically results in a mild, self-limited illness. However, in some cases HFMD can progress to more serious complications such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord).

HFMD is most commonly seen in children under five years old but can occur in older children and adults. It is spread through contact with respiratory secretions (saliva, mucus, blood) or feces from an infected person.

HFMD is treated with supportive care such as fluids and rest. If your child develops complications such as encephalitis or meningitis they will require treatment in a hospital setting. To reduce the risk of contracting Hand Foot And Mouth Disease you should wash your hands regularly with soap and water especially after changing a diaper or using the bathroom. A good hand sanitizer can also be effective in killing many different types of germs, but it is not as strong as washing with soap and water. To prevent the spread of HFMD, your child should be kept home for five days after the last appearance of blisters or sores. It is also important to make sure that if you do have a case in your household that all family members wash their hands frequently to prevent spreading the infection.


Two years ago this illness would have not been on this list, but as we all know, Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus that was discovered in 2019. Unfortunately is has subsequently caused a pandemic and changed the way we all look at our health, travel, and illness. It is spread in the same way as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). It has a high mortality rate in adults and the elderly, but can be treated with supportive care including antiviral medications and monoclinal antibodies. The majority of Covid-19 illness in children is mild and some children and adolescents may not have any symptoms. Covid-19 in children is still being studied and the information available to parents is changing every day. There are vaccines that have been FDA approved for children 12 years and older and there is ongoing study of children less than 12 years old. Approved vaccines have been shown to be safe in children. Additionally, the best information in regards to the Covid-19 vaccine and disease for children can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Covid-19 infection typically presents within two to five days after exposure and begins with fever, cough , runny nose, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and a headache. Most people with Covid-19 recover within seven to ten days of being diagnosed, but some develop severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization.

The majority of illness in children is mild and can be treated at home with fluids, rest, and Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen. It is important to call your child’s pediatrician or seek emergency care if your child has any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, body aches, diarrhea, or vomiting. To prevent the spread of Covid-19 it is important that those who are sick avoid contact with others as much as possible so they do not become more ill or infect someone else. You should look online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local Department of Health’s website for up to date quarantine guidelines.

There are other illnesses that children may get before they turn two years old (the majority of illness your child will get are viruses) and it is important to be aware of them so you can seek medical attention as soon as possible if your child begins showing any worsening symptoms. Keep in mind the majority of illness are viral and can be treated at home.

Sign up for Kids Health Secrets, an online kids’ preventive health and wellness platform to learn more about the top illness children will get before they are two years old. Kids Health Secrets has on-line classes, live classes, and resources that are perfect for any parent including those that are expecting, new parents, experienced and those that have children with special needs. Consults are available! Online classes start at $129 and live classes start at $49.99 so check them out today!

For more information and resources on your baby’s or child’s health, parent tips and tricks, pediatric emergencies, please visit our website or blog. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit our website to download free PDF guides and hear our podcasts.

The information in this blog is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general information purposes and is the opinion of staff at Blue Emerald Wellness. Please do not delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you read in this blog.

Authored by Dr. Christopher Haines

Disclosure: We only recommend products we would use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy here.

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