There are plenty of things in life we may not like, but must endure — things like taxes and mosquitoes. And while these things are bothersome, they are tolerable, much like the minor illnesses your children are likely to catch during the school year.
“Kids are going to get sick and they are going to miss school,” says Dr. Michal Goldberg, a board-certified pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “Kids at school are in close contact with each other, which allows for the spread of common childhood viral illnesses.”
To help parents and caregivers navigate the sick season, Dr. Goldberg addresses four common questions about common illnesses, and how you and your family can get through them together.
What illnesses might kids catch at school?
Some of the most common childhood illnesses are viral upper respiratory infection, gastroenteritis, strep throat and influenza virus.
Are there things parents and children can do to limit their risk of getting sick?
Germs spread when we touch an infected surface and then put our hands near our eyes, nose or mouth. Hand washing is a very important way to stop the spread of infection. Scrubbing the hands for 10 to 15 seconds (long enough to sing the ABC song) will help limit the spread of viruses. It’s important to note that studies have shown that antibacterial soaps are no better at washing away dirt than regular soap and water. Furthermore, they can lead to the emergence of bacterial resistance.
One of the most important things that parents can do to limit the spread of illness is to vaccinate their children against influenza. While getting a common cold can help build a child’s immunity, influenza virus can cause serious illness or worse. The flu causes significant complications and deaths every year.
If a child does become ill with a common bug, what can be done at home to increase their comfort and get them back to good health?
Rest and hydration are the most important things to do at home. Most viral illnesses usually get better without treatment or medication. Rest and drinking plenty of fluids (think chicken soup) will help a child to recover quickly. If you think your child has strep throat, you should contact the doctor.
When should a parent keep a child home, even if they seem to feel well?
Keep a sick child at home until he or she has had no fever for 24 hours and until he or she feels well enough to participate in class. Children with strep throat or pneumonia should be kept home until they have been on an appropriate antibiotic for a full 24 hours. Children with hand-foot-mouth disease are most contagious in the first week of illness and can return to school when they are no longer drooling (for preschoolers) and don’t have open blisters.
“Parents should not feel guilty if their children get sick,” says Dr. Goldberg. “We don’t need to run from germs or be paranoid of routine childhood illnesses — they are inevitable. With rest and hydration, most kids are back to school in no time.”
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Goldberg about kids and illness for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.