Back To School, Not The ER

My kids and yours are heading back to school in the next few weeks. They’re going to get new teachers, new class mates, new books. They are also going to get some new germs too, if they are not careful.

We in the pediatrics game are bracing for the onslaught of sick kids that happens every year after the kids have been in school for a while. Kids share the latest germs by wiping their noses and then touching their classmates, coughing and sneezing on each other, and little ones sticking their fingers in each others’ mouths. Older kids share drinks, and of course teenagers kiss (gasp!).

How do we protect our kids from the contagious-disease-factory known as school? First, we need to remind them about good hygiene- hand washing, not sharing drinks, covering mouths when coughing and sneezing. Second, we need to take them to the doctor if they need vaccines or refills on preventative medicines, such as those for asthma kids. Third, if there are no sinks handy for handwashing at school, think about equipping your kids with a bottle of hand sanitizer. DO THESE THINGS NOW! WRITE YOURSELF A REMINDER NOW!

Finally, one of the best preventions for illness is a healthy diet. Vitamin pills just don’t cut it near as well as good food. No fast food. No junk foods or soda in the house. A fruit with every meal. High fiber breads and cereals. Milk or yogurt two to three times daily. Veggies with lunch and dinner.

Please make life easier for me and my overworked colleagues- follow this advice. And if your child does get sick, be sure to use the emergency departments only for EMERGENCIES. Long wait times in emergency rooms are caused by too many people clogging the system with minor illnesses like coughs, runny noses, fevers, sore throats, ear aches, and rashes. So use your family doctor and the ER wisely. And wash those hands!

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