It’s the start of a new school year and a good time to focus on good health and preventing illness.
While the beginning of a new school year is exciting, it is also an opportune time for germs and viruses to spread from person to person. Watch for symptoms of these common illnesses: The common cold is often lurking and the flu might strike, causing more fever, fatigue and body aches than the common cold. Strep throat, a contagious bacterial infection, causes fever, severe sore throat and loss of appetite. Mono, a virus transmitted through saliva, causes sore throat, fever, fatigue that can last for weeks, swollen lymph nodes and tonsils. What is a family to do to prevent these illnesses?
- Reinforce frequent hand washing during school, at home, at a friend’s house – anywhere germs are. Hand sanitizer is recommended and wiping down electronic key pads on mobile devises can help reduce the spread of illness.
- Add a travel sized hand sanitizer and a pack of tissues to a child’s backpack.
- Obtain a flu shot.
- Persistent high fevers should always be checked by a health care provider.
These are all smart ways to help protect against common illnesses.
Other than bugs and viruses, families should be aware of other health issues during the school year. Food poisoning can occur when food is left at unsafe temperatures for hours at a time. Make sure lunches are properly cooled and insulated to avoid food related illness.
Pink Eye, or bacterial conjunctivitis, is very contagious and can be passed among students in a classroom. It causes a yellowish-green eye discharge that often causes the eyelids to stick together. The redness, discomfort, and itchiness can make a child uncomfortable and should be treated at the earliest stage.
Avoid back injury from heavy backpacks. Choose a backpack for your student that is no longer or wider than their torso to properly distribute weight. Pick up your child’s backpack occasionally to check how heavy it is. Encourage your child to empty it frequently to lighten the load.
Sports participation injuries are also common throughout the school year. Sprains are caused by landing improperly on an outstretched joint and may cause swelling, bruising, and restriction in movement. Doing warm-up and stretching exercises before starting new activities can help prevent injuries.
Broken bones will cause pain, swelling, deformity, bruising and loss of function. Be sure you listen to your child’s complaints and seek medical attention as needed. Ignoring an injury can sometimes result in more complications. A trip to an urgent care center for a quick check and x-ray can assure prompt treatment if needed, and peace of mind.
Head injuries can occur and concussions are more serious blows to the head that can cause the brain to shake, which may result in memory loss, lack of coordination, fatigue and other serious symptoms. Wear a well-fitted protective helmet when riding bikes to school. Be sure you use appropriate protective sports equipment.
This is the time of year, too, when it is important to remind your family to pay close attention to school traffic and buses. Remind your child to take off headphones, look all around before crossing streets, train track crossings and parking lots, and don’t let friends become too much of a distraction, especially around high-traffic areas.
When illness or injury happens and your doctor’s office is not open or cannot accommodate a same-day appointment, visit an urgent care center. Have a healthy and safe school year!
This information was provided by Dr. Linda Kintz, a board-certified family practice physician with the Emerson Urgent Care Centers in Littleton and Hudson. More information can be found at www.EmersonUrgentCare.org.