Why Kids Get Sick Once School Starts Again

Why Kids Get Sick Once School Starts Again

You're not imagining things; the kids really are getting sick more frequently than the summer.

In acute pediatric care, there’s always a bump in patient visits during the first month of school, and there are several reasons why. Sure, some germs are actually beneficial to the development of a healthy immune system, but in general it seems like everyone is sniffling and sick this time of year. So how do you prevent common illnesses and make sure your kids don’t get sick when in school? Christina Johns, M.D. shares her tips for preventing injury and illness this time of year.

First, getting kids together in enclosed spaces like classrooms and buses means germs can be exchanged quickly and more directly. In their social interactions, children perform elaborate handshakes, huddle to whisper secrets, and share lunches and snacks. Additionally, kids seem to fire up their daredevil moves on the playground to burn off all that pent up energy, so injuries tend to increase as well. So, no, you’re not imagining things if you think that your child tends to see the doctors more during the school year.

Here are some simple ways we can help our kids stay healthy and keep injuries and illnesses down to a minimum this school year:

  1. Remind kids (of all ages) not to swap food or drinks with friends.
  2. Tell children to avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or seems sick.
  3. Remind your little ones to sneeze into the folds of their arms or away from other people (it’s also polite!)
  4. Encourage your kids to bring home any food that doesn’t get eaten during the day. Not only will you avoid passing around germs, but you’ll also discover how to better pack their lunches to their liking.

For injuries, know the difference between what needs a trip to the ER and what just needs some TLC. When dealing with acute “backyard” injuries (where an ambulance is not called), parents should consider seeking out a pediatric urgent care that is equipped to handle serious injuries, such as extremity fractures and lacerations, just as well as a hospital. Know where your local pediatric ER is located before you need one.