Top 9 Most Common Childhood Illnesses in New Mexico

common childhood illnesses

With each new season, comes the ongoing challenge of preventing and treating a fresh batch of contagious diseases, viral infections, and seasonal allergies in children of all ages. And this summer is no different.

Today, we’re breaking down the most common childhood illnesses that are currently rising amongst New Mexico communities and telling you exactly how to care for these ailments at home, so you can take proactive steps towards protecting the health and well-being of your family year-round.

Here are the illnesses we’re keeping an eye on.

Seasonal Allergies or “Hay Fever”

While the name “hay fever” may sound frightening, this common illness isn’t contagious or caused by any form of viral infection.

Instead, these allergies occur when children into contact with potent seasonal elements that trigger a response in the body’s immune system. The most common allergens for children during this time of year include pollen, grass, and weeds.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies

  • Red, watery eyes
  • Dry or itchy throat
  • Tender, swollen glands
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever

How to treat hay fever at home

Typically, these symptoms will clear up on their own when exposure to the allergen has lessened. In the meantime, you can help your child feel better with over-the-counter allergy medications that have been approved for children in their age range, such as Zyrtec or Claritin.

Common Cold

As you may have guessed, the common cold has earned its name due to its prevalence in both children and adults.

While this ailment occurs more frequently during cold and flu season, your child can catch a cold at any point during the year, especially in a school environment where they are exposed to other individuals.

Symptoms of a Common Cold

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Lack of energy
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Coughing

How to treat a Common Cold at home

Thankfully, most common cold symptoms will clear up on their own within a few days of onset. You can help alleviate this period of discomfort using over-the-counter pain or fever reducers, drinking lots of fluids, and giving your little one lots of time to rest.

Sore Throat

Another common ailment that can have a wide range of causes is a sore throat.

In most cases, sore throats are a symptom of another condition like a cold, flu, or upper respiratory infection. To ensure your child’s well-being, you should carefully monitor their symptoms to see if their sore throat could be due to more serious health issues.

Symptoms of a Sore Throat

  • Red, swollen throat
  • Coughing
  • Drainage in back of the throat
  • Hoarse voice

How to Treat a Sore Throat at home

No matter what the cause of your child’s sore throat is, you can soothe the ongoing irritation by using over-the-counter cough suppressants, sipping on warm liquids, offering lozenges, and gargling salt water. If these symptoms do not improve, you should consult with your doctor to determine if another illness is to blame.

Bronchiolitis or RSV

Not to be confused with bronchitis, this viral illness spikes in the early spring months and most commonly impacts children under the age of 2, especially those who experienced premature birth.

Latching onto the tiniest airways in our lungs, known as bronchioles, this form of respiratory syncytial virus causes these pathways to become inflamed and irritated, restricting the flow of oxygen in the body.

Symptoms of RSV

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Wheezing sounds
  • Difficulty breathing normally
  • Feeling sluggish or tired
  • Bluish coloring to the skin and nails

How to treat bronchiolitis at home

While the early stages of RSV may appear similar to a common cold, these symptoms will gradually worsen if not treated promptly. We recommend consulting with a medical professional to determine the severity of your child’s bronchiolitis and taking appropriate action.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Despite an uptick in viral respiratory infections during the spring and summer months, your child will likely contract one of these common illnesses between 6 – 10 times per year, especially if they attend an in-person school or daycare center.

URIs can be described as an umbrella term that covers any number of viral infections that impact the nasal area and respiratory system, including the common cold, the flu, laryngitis, and sinusitis.

Symptoms of upper respiratory infections

  • Extreme nasal congestion
  • Mild coughing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore, achy throat

How to treat URIs at home

Most common colds will resolve on their own within 5 – 10 days of onset symptoms and can be treated with plenty of rest, fluids, and over-the-counter children’s cold medications. However, if your child runs a high-grade fever that lasts for more than 48 hours, you should consider having your child evaluated by a trained physician.

Enterovirus and Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

You’ve certainly heard of the notorious hand-foot-mouth disease, a common childhood illness that results in body rashes and inflammation in the respiratory system for both little ones and their caregivers.

However, this illness belongs to the larger family of enteroviruses, a collection of viral infections that are spread through direct contact with an infected person. Other illnesses in this category include EV-D68 and coxsackie virus.

Symptoms of Hand-foot-and-mouth Disease

  • Fever
  • Rashes along the hands, feet, and mouth areas
  • Swollen, sore throat
  • Mild cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea and vomiting

How to treat enteroviruses at home

This common illness is usually treated with over-the-counter remedies, resting, and consuming lots of fluids. Because these viruses are spread through direct contact, frequent hand washing and sanitizing of shared spaces can help prevent further infections in your household.


Recent years have shown a seasonal increase in the reported number of chickenpox cases in school-aged children, despite the availability of effective vaccines.

This childhood illness is a highly contagious viral infection that is spread through direct contact with another infected child, making it a top concern for classrooms and daycares across New Mexico.

Symptoms of Chickenpox

  • Itchy rashes appearing on all areas of the body
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Patches of scale-like blisters on the skin
  • Feeling sluggish or tired
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands

How to treat chickenpox at home

You can help soothe your child’s skin through topical moisturizers and warm oatmeal baths while offering over-the-counter medications to reduce cold-like symptoms. We recommend speaking with your doctor to create a preventative action plan against future chickenpox outbreaks.

Ear Infections

Despite being one of the most common ailments in New Mexico children, ear infections are typically an indication of another underlying condition such as the cold or flu.

When bacteria or viral elements become trapped in your child’s ear canal, they can lead to a growing infection that will continue to worsen if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

  • Pain or swelling in the ear canal
  • Discharge and visible congestion in the ear
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Difficulty hearing

How to treat an ear infection at home

Since ear infections are typically the result of another medical ailment, you can treat this at the source with over-the-counter pain medications, antibiotics, and plenty of rest, so that your child’s body can have the support it needs to fight the infection.

Skin Infections

Skin irritations or rashes are extremely common amongst young children and often come from a variety of sources. Except for more severe infections like chickenpox, most skin infections are not contagious and can be attributed to outside sources.

Symptoms of a Skin Infection

  • Visible red patches on the skin
  • Dry, itchy areas
  • Bumps or legions on the body

How to treat a skin infection at home

First, it’s important to understand the source of your child’s skin infection. You should consult with your doctor to determine if your child has an allergy that has irritated so that you can help them avoid contact in the future. To soothe itchy, irritated skin, you can use home remedies like topical lotions and oatmeal baths to alleviate symptoms.

How to protect your family from common childhood illnesses

While it’s difficult to avoid all common childhood illnesses, having access to quality healthcare and making regular appointments with a board-certified pediatrician can give you an advantage against this season’s most infectious threats.

Telepeds gives families from all backgrounds the freedom to take charge of their health on their terms, all in one convenient, low-cost platform that you can access any time, any place.

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Misha Harris

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