How to Stay Healthy During the School Year

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on October 9, 2019

Now that the kids are back at school, they are less at risk for sunburn or heatstroke but more at risk for colds and flu.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the viruses responsible for colds and the flu cause the most common sicknesses in child care facilities and schools.

boy sneezing into his elbow and girl holding a container of antibacterial soap
Teach your child to cough or sneeze into his elbow instead of into his hands.

If you start to hear sniffles and coughs as your kids work on their homework, you are not alone. We talked to a Carilion Clinic pediatrician to learn what medical issues doctors tend to see during the school year.

Her number one responsethe common cold.

Colds and Flu
The Carilion Children's team starts seeing it about three weeks into the school year. They recommend several hygiene habits that students can use to protect themselves and to avoid spreading any viruses they may be carrying:

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Use antibacterial hand washes
  • Be sure you’re getting enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy, nutritious diet

Handwashing is of utmost importance. Kids should be reminded to wash hands frequently at school and when they get home.

Every student should get the annual flu vaccine once it is available each fall.

Getting school vaccinations before kindergarten and before middle school will ensure that your child has all the protections that they need.

Prescription Medications
Students who are being treated for other conditions should be sure to follow their health care provider’s instructions and take their medications as prescribed, even as their schedule and sleep patterns change.

If medications for ADHD, allergies, asthma or other conditions are not taken, a child's school day can be ruined unnecessarily.

Don't forget that even older children need to be supervised when they take their medications.

Controlled medications such as stimulants taken for ADHD have abuse and diversion potential, so teenagers taking these medications should be supervised each morning.

Their peers will ask to buy their ADHD medications more than you may know, so make sure the person for whom they are prescribed is the one taking them.

Parents can arrange with the school’s nurse or health office to hold and dispense medications that must be taken during the school day.