September, otherwise known as back-to-school season, can be a hectic time of year - especially because of all the illnesses that increase due to changing weather and a new school season. From the common cold, to asthma, and even pink eye, there are numerous ailments that tend to occur more in children during their adjustment back into school. This week The Medical Station discusses the top five illnesses to look out for during this time, as well as ways to prevent and treat them.
Asthma-related ER visits increase during late August to late September, especially with the changes in weather and the return to school. It is not a coincidence that asthma attacks spike in popularity in September – children are in close-contact during this time, which causes an increase in bacteria and the sharing of germs. This leads to an increase in infection, which trigger symptoms of asthma attacks. In addition, children often forget to bring their inhalers with them in the first weeks adjusting back to school.
The Common Cold
Colds are extremely frequent during the back-to-school season, because they are highly common and contagious. Children in elementary school get between eight to twelve colds each school year, according to the CDC, and high-school aged students tend to get between four to six colds each school year. Symptoms of the common cold include a sore throat, runny nose, cough, sneezing, headache and body aches, as well as respiratory problems and irritations. Preventative measures include ensuring that your children are keeping proper hygiene – especially washing their hands regularly – as well as proper eating and sleeping habits. Treatments for the common cold include decongestants and antihistamines.
Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye, is an eye infection that is common among back-to-school time, as it is highly infectious. It is caused by an inflammation of the thin membrane called the conjunctiva, which covers the white of the eyes and lines the eyelids. Children who touch or rub their eyes without washing their hands can easily spread the injection in a school setting. Treatments for Pink Eye are antibiotic eye drops, and are only available for bacterial conjunctivitis, not if the infection is viral. The Medical Station can prescribe these eye drops for you if you are suffering from Pink Eye.
Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection that is caused by the bacteria Group A Streptococcus (GAS). It is one of the most common skin infections in children, and is rapidly growing in frequency each year. Symptoms of impetigo include itchiness, soreness, and blisters and sores on the irritated skin (usually the face, neck, hands, or legs). Impetigo is treated by different methods depending on its severity. In most cases, doctors will have the child wash the sores with saline solution or soak the infected skin in vinegar and water until the rash clears up. If the infection is persistent or sever, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. Proper hygiene is the key to preventing impetigo, including hand washing, bathing regularly, and cleaning and covering any injuries.