Back to School: Common Classroom Illnesses


common childhood illnessesThe start of the school year brings with it new teachers, full backpacks, and plenty of homework. Unfortunately, it also brings an increased risk of illness for your children. Kids in school spend more time indoors, in close proximity to one another, sharing supplies, toys, — and infections. Learn about the common classroom illnesses that your kids might come home with, and how to care for them.

Pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

Pinkeye –or conjunctivitis– is one of the most common eye infections in children. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white of the eyeball. Pinkeye is most often the result of a virus, and can be very contagious; outbreaks sweep through schools and playgrounds.

Pinkeye symptoms include the hallmark pink or red appearance of the eye, along with eye itchiness, pain, swelling, and/or a feeling of sand in the eye. Discharge from the eye and tearing are also common. If you suspect your child has pinkeye, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the spread of the infection to others, and help ease symptoms. Visit our clinic at the first signs of symptoms of pinkeye.

Flu

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that occurs seasonally, usually from October through May (the bulk of the school year.) The flu is spread through tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Symptoms come on suddenly, can be mild to severe, and include fever, body aches, decreased appetite, headache, and severe exhaustion. The illness can lead to serious complications, especially in young children. If your little one develops symptoms, head into our clinic for a proper diagnosis and fast treatment.

To prevent flu, make sure your family receives the annual flu vaccine and teach your child good hygiene habits such as covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing.

Common Cold

The common cold is usually the result of rhinoviruses. These viruses spread through the air and close personal contact, and kids are more susceptible than adults. If your child comes down with a cold, they’ll likely be sneezy, and suffering from a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, body aches, and a headache. They may also develop a mild fever. There is no cure for a cold. Just make sure your little one gets some rest and drinks plenty of fluids.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a contagious infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. These bacteria spread easily through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Kids can get strep by breathing in these droplets, touching a surface where they are present, or by sharing food or drinks with someone who is sick.

Signs of strep include a sore and scratchy throat, difficulty swallowing, headache and fever. Your child’s tonsils may appear red and swollen, sometimes with white patches, along with tiny red spots at the back of the mouth and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck. If your child is suffering from any symptoms that may indicate strep, it’s important to see a medical provider. Untreated strep throat can cause serious complications such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever.

As a parent, it’s difficult to see your child not feeling well. But, childhood illnesses are inevitable. Teach your kids healthy habits, keep track of their symptoms, and remember that our medical team is here to care for your family!