CareNow® - September 01, 2023

As the back-to-school season approaches, parents have more on their minds than just school supplies and schedules. With children gathering in close quarters, it's important to be aware of the most common back-to-school illnesses that tend to circulate in schools.

By understanding these illnesses and implementing the following tips, you can help protect your child's health and ensure a smooth transition into the new school year.

In this blog post, we're discussing the most common classroom illnesses and providing practical tips on how to prevent kids from getting sick at school.

What Are the Most Common Childhood Illnesses?

Childhood illnesses can be widespread, especially during the school year, and may cause various symptoms like respiratory issues, sore throat, fatigue, stomach discomfort, and eye irritation.

These ailments are typically highly contagious and can easily spread among children in close contact. Giving immediate attention and appropriate care are vital in managing and preventing complications associated with these common childhood illnesses.

  • Common Cold: The common cold is, well, quite common among children, especially during the school year. It's caused by a viral infection and spreads easily through respiratory droplets. Symptoms may include a runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, and mild fatigue.
  • Influenza (Flu): The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Flu symptoms often come on suddenly and can include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and congestion. In severe cases, it can lead to complications and hospitalization.
  • Stomach Bugs (Gastroenteritis): Gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is typically caused by viruses such as norovirus or rotavirus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever. Stomach bugs spread easily, particularly in environments where hygiene practices may be challenging.
  • Streptococcal Pharyngitis (Strep Throat): Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. It commonly affects school-aged children and presents with symptoms such as severe sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, headache, and swollen tonsils. Prompt medical attention and treatment with antibiotics are crucial to prevent complications.
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): Pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, watering of the eyes, and discharge. Pink eye is highly contagious and can spread easily among children in close contact.

How to Prevent Kids Getting Sick at School

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of illness, there are several preventive measures you can take to reduce the chances of your child getting sick at school. Here are some practical tips:

Teach Proper Hand Hygiene

Encourage your child to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the restroom, and after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, provide them with hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol.

Practice Respiratory Etiquette

Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow when coughing or sneezing. Emphasize the importance of disposing of used tissues properly and avoiding touching their face with unwashed hands.

Promote Good Sleep Hygiene

Adequate sleep is crucial for a strong immune system. Establish a regular sleep schedule for your child, ensuring they get the recommended amount of sleep for their age group.

Encourage a Balanced Diet

Provide your child with a nutritious and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A healthy diet can help strengthen their immune system and protect against illnesses.

Stay Up to Date with Vaccinations

Ensure your child's vaccinations are up to date according to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccinations play a critical role in preventing various infectious diseases.

Promote Physical Activity

Regular physical activity helps boost the immune system and overall well-being. Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate activities, whether it's playing sports, biking, dancing, or simply enjoying outdoor playtime.

Keep Common Areas Clean

Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, desks, and shared toys. Encourage your child's school to maintain proper cleanliness and hygiene practices.

Teach Good Personal Hygiene Habits

Instruct your child to avoid sharing personal items such as hats, hairbrushes, and water bottles. Teach them the importance of not touching their face, eyes, or mouth with unwashed hands.

By implementing these preventive measures and teaching your child about good hygiene practices, you can significantly reduce their risk of contracting common childhood illnesses at school. Encourage open communication with your child's school regarding health and safety policies to ensure a healthy learning environment.

When to Keep Your Child Home From School

Determining whether to keep your child home from school can be challenging, especially during cold and flu season. If their symptoms are mild, such as a runny nose, it may be acceptable for them to attend school.

However, if their symptoms are more severe and resemble the flu, it's responsible to keep them at home. It's important to consider how you would feel if your child's classmates attended school with similar symptoms, and taking a few days to rest can aid in their recovery.

If your child experiences more severe symptoms like fever, headache, chills, sore throat, or coughing, it's recommended you keep them home and consult a healthcare provider if necessary. Additionally, it's crucial to be mindful of contagiousness and the duration of illnesses, as certain symptoms point toward the need for medical attention.

Remember, if your child does become ill, consult with a medical provider who can give you a proper diagnosis, treatment plan, and guidance on when it's safe for them to return to school.

At CareNow®, we have more than 175 locations throughout the country so we can provide you with quality convenient care. Utilize our Web Check-In® feature before your visit so you can wait from anywhere!

We take great pride in being recognized as an Accredited Urgent Care Center by the prestigious Urgent Care Association (UCA). This esteemed title serves as a testament to the quality of care you can expect from our experienced team.

Find a CareNow Near You

Find a CareNow® Near You