Ask Your Doctor: Back To School Illnesses

By admin September 2, 2011 10:20

Ask Your Doctor: Back To School Illnesses

As the vast majority of school children in Anguilla return to school, many health professions tend to see an increase in a number of illnesses such as coughs, colds, diarrhoea, eye infections and sore throats or strep throats.There are a number of measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of illnesses during this stressful time.


Preventative measures
Many parents might be wondering if they can do anything to help prevent some of the illnesses associated with going back to school. Indeed there are a number of things that can do.

Common sense can go a long way toward preventing illness in the classroom. In addition to frequent hand washing, teach your child other school health basics:

• Use hand sanitizer. Give him/her alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep in his or her desk. Remind your child to use the sanitizer before eating snacks or lunch and after using a shared computer mouse, pencil sharpener, water fountain or other community objects. You might also donate disinfecting wipes to the classroom for general use.

• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Give your child a package of tissues to keep in his or her desk. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue — then put the tissue in the trash, and wash his or her hands or use hand sanitizer. If it is not possible to reach a tissue in time, remind your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her elbow.

• Keep your hands away from your eyes and out of your mouth. Remind your child that hands are often covered in germs.

• Don’t share water bottles, food or other personal items. Offer your child this simple rule — if you put the item in your mouth, keep it to yourself. If your child shares pencils, markers or other classroom supplies, stress the importance of keeping them out of his or her mouth.

• Avoid anyone who is sick. Remind your child that sitting next to, or playing with, someone who is sick could lead to his or her own illness.

Of course, it’s also important for your child to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and stay current on his or her immunizations. To prevent spreading illness at home, use the same tips for the entire family.

Why hand washing counts
Frequent hand washing is the simplest — and most effective — way to prevent many illnesses, both at home and at school. Remind your child to wash his or her hands before eating, and after using the toilet, blowing his or her nose or playing outside. Suggest soaping up for as long as it takes to sing the ABCs, or the “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” song.

When your kids should stay home
Although it may seem obvious, children should not go to school when they are contagious to others or when they are too sick to learn. For many parents this can be a challenging time or decision.

Most schools will send a child home if they think he/she is contagious with a variety of disorders such as chickenpox, strep throat, eye infections, vomiting and diarrhea.

Consider keeping your child home if he or she:

•Has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher

•Has been vomiting

•Has symptoms that prevent him or her from participating in school:

?Excessive tiredness or lack of appetite

?Productive coughing, sneezing

?Headache, body aches, earache

?Sore throat- A minor sore throat is usually not a problem, but a severe sore throat could be strep throat even if there is no fever. Other symptoms of strep throat in children are headache and stomach upset.

Keep your child home until his or her fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication. Colds can be contagious for at least 48 hours. Returning to school too soon may slow the recovery process and can unnecessarily expose others to illness.

Please note that these tips and suggestions should not take the place of medical advice from a doctor or pediatrician. Parents should also be aware of guidelines specific to their child’s school.

Going back to school can be an exciting time for children, but in some cases many illnesses are associated with the return to school period. Many illnesses caused by viruses are easily spread at this time resulting in much pain and suffering for children and much distress for parents. Parents are encouraged to educate their children on various preventative measures that can decrease the risk of children becoming ill during this period.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. Dr Brett Hodge is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over twenty five years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in the Johnson Building in The Valley.

By admin September 2, 2011 10:20


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