Common back-to-school illnesses and how to combat them 

After two wonderful months of camp, vacations and fun in the sun, students across the country are getting ready to sharpen their pencils, pack their new backpacks and head back to school. As they catch up with old friends and exchange stories about their summer, students are also at risk of swapping germs and catching illnesses from their classmates.
 
To help make sure your kids are bringing home homework and not illness-causing germs this school year, here is some information about five common back-to-school illnesses and how to combat them:
 
*Please note: Consult a doctor if your child’s symptoms continue or worsen for two to five days. If your child has a fever lasting for two days, please seek medical attention.
 
Common Cold
A common cold is caused by a virus—one of 200 to be specific. These viruses are really easy to catch. You simply have to be near someone who is coughing or sneezing to become infected. You can also catch it by touching surfaces an infected individual has touched such as a doorknob, telephone or towel. Plenty of rest and fluids will help cure this ailment.
 
Symptoms: runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and sometimes a sore throat, cough, headache or low fever.
 
Pink Eye
Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye causes redness and swelling of your eyelid and eye surface. Pink eye can be viral, bacterial or caused by allergies. You can catch it through contact with an infected individual’s hands or items that have touched their eye—so try to avoid hand-to-eye contact, or sharing items like a face cloth or sunglasses. Bacterial conjunctivitis is treatable with antibiotics, whereas warm compresses can help viral cases. Consult a doctor if you think your child has pink eye.
 
Symptoms: Redness in the white of the eye, swelling of the eyelids, itching, swollen and tender areas in front of the ears, crust along the eyelid, increased tear production and clear or slightly thick, whitish drainage.
 
Sore Throat/Strep Throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by a streptococcus bacteria. It is spread similarly to a cold. Symptoms typically develop within five days of being exposed to the bacteria. It’s treatable with antibiotics as well as with a lot of rest and fluids.
 
Symptoms: A sudden fever, a sore, red throat with white patches, headaches, chills, a loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, trouble swallowing.
 
Flu
The flu is an upper respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Similar to a cold, it is usually transmitted through contact with an infected individual who is sneezing or coughing, or by touching something they have been in contact with. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to help cure the flu.
 
Symptoms: Fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache or other body aches, fatigue, and—in children—vomiting or diarrhea.
 
Head Lice
While head lice are contagious, it will not cause serious harm to your child. Lice are tiny parasites that live off the blood in scalps. They crawl from head to head, so be sure to tell your child not to share hats with other kids, like when they’re sitting in circles at school. There are several different treatments from combing out their hair to lotions and over-the-counter shampoos and conditioners. Consult a doctor or school nurse to determine which route to take.
 
Symptoms: Itchy scalp, scratching, crawling sensation on the scalp, finding lice eggs (nits).
 

 
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Help your kids avoid getting sick with these six tips:
 
 
Hand washing:Encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, especially after going to the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and after sneezing. Have them use warm water and soap, and scrub both sides of their hands and wrists, between their fingers and around their fingernails. Hand washing should take at least as much time as it takes to sing the ABCs.
 
Cough and sneeze etiquette: Teach your kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow, sleeve or tissue, and to wash their hands afterwards.
 
 
Maintain a healthy immune system: Help your kids build up their immune systems by eating well, exercising regularly, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
 
 
Avoid sick classmates: Remind your kids to stay away from anyone who is sick or not feeling well.
 
 
Stay up-to-date on vaccinations: Make sure your kids have all the booster shots and vaccinations recommended for their age group.
 
 
Sick days: Keep your kids home if they aren’t feeling well.