Michael Rogge, M.D.
Family Medicine, Primary Care
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It may seem as though school-age children frequently get sick, especially during certain times each year. Why do children this age tend to get sick so often?
In the early school years, your children's immune systems are put to the test. Young children in large group settings tend to quickly spread organisms that cause illness.
Viruses cause many common childhood illnesses. All it takes is for one child to bring a virus to school for the spread of illness to begin.
The power of hand-washing
What's the best way to keep your children healthy in school? Frequent hand-washing is the simplest, most effective way to stay healthy.
Remind your children to wash their hands when doing these activities:
- Before eating a meal or snack
- After going to the bathroom
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
- After playing outside.
Children should soap up their hands for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice through, or at least 20 seconds.
Staying healthy with simple tips
Here are more tips for keeping kids healthy in school:
- Give your children alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep in their desks or backpacks. When hand-washing is not an option, children should use hand sanitizer before eating snacks or lunch and after using shared objects, such as a computer, pencil sharpener or water fountain.
- Give your children a package of tissues to keep in their desks or backpacks. Encourage your children to sneeze into a tissue. If a tissue is not available, they should cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
- Remind children to keep their hands away from their eyes and out of their mouths because hands often are covered in germs.
- Teach children to not share water bottles, food or other personal items. Use this simple rule: If you put the item in your mouth, keep it to yourself.
It's also important for your children to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and stay current on their vaccinations to help fend off illness-causing organisms.
Keep your children at home if they have symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat or rashes.