Back To School: A Recipe For Illness

School is just around the corner and a new school year means the exciting start of making new friends and memories. Unfortunately for many people it also marks the beginning of cold and allergy season. Elementary aged children catch around 12 colds per year, with older children catching around half as much. Children are still developing their immune systems, and aren’t always the most conscientious when it comes to hygiene and germs. Add in shared toys and school supplies, close quarters, and underlying allergy problems and you’ve got a recipe for illness. Luckily, there are many simple steps to ensure your family stays healthy this school year.

Healthy Habits Start At Home

Before we even get to school we have to make sure we are taking care of things at home.  Our children need plenty of sleep, exercise, and nutritious foods will lay a strong foundation to combat sickness. Elementary aged children should spend at least 40 minutes a day running around and being active. Their day should end with about 10-11 hours of sleep at night. Balanced diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables are key, along with teaching children proper hygiene techniques. Spend some time before meals showing your children how to properly wash hands – use soap and warm water, and wash your hands the entire time while you sing the ABCs. Water fountains, mostly forgotten as a hygiene area, can be among the germiest in school.  Teach children to drink without putting their lips on the actual faucet.

Allergies Are Also A Problem At School

Along with germs, a new school year is likely to bring about exposure to new allergens. Allergies can bring the classic symptoms that make us miserable. Eyes get watery and/or itchy and we start sneezing and getting a running nose.  What many families don’t realize is that allergies can seem like repeated sickness. Often allergy symptoms are thought to be the common cold.  Many allergens are present in school that otherwise may not be at home – dust mites, mold, or animal dander from classroom pets or other students’ pets are common.

Many children’s allergies respond well to nasal steroid sprays (such as Children’s Nasacort or Flonase) or oral antihistamines (like Children’s Allegra). If, however, your child’s symptoms are not controlled with these medications or you find that they are required for long-term use, it’s important to check in with a doctor.  Allergy testing will not only identify specific allergens for your child, but will allow for effective treatment of symptoms. Allergy drops are just one option that can provide a superior long-term solution for children.  With a little extra effort and a few good habits, your family can reduce the risk of illness all school year long.

If you find your child gets sick, even after all the prevention, remember that our physicians are here to help you. Use our Online Appointment Request to see a Board Certified Ear Nose and Throat Specialist in one of our 16 locations.  For more information check out the articles below:

This article was provided by Dr. Michael Moore.

Dr. Moore sees patients in our Tanglewilde office.

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