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The importance of prevention

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
The importance of prevention

For many, the whole fall season can feel like a blur. With kids back in school, holidays just up ahead, and sports season in full swing, many families can find themselves burning the candle at both ends. Too often this can lead to an illness such as a cold or the flu. However, with proper knowledge, avoiding triggers, and taking some preventative measures, you can keep the season illness-free and healthy as ever. Here’s how:

Allergies Can Still Occur

With outdoors activities still in full swing, be mindful that trees, plants, and weeds that can lead to allergy symptoms. Depending on location, ragweed can be one of the most common. With outdoor sports, such as soccer or football, cut grass can lead to eye irritations, especially when an allergy is present. For some, it can be a daily issue. If you notice that your allergies are worse in the morning or around fresh-cut grass, you might want to get tested.

Don’t Let Headaches Ruin Your Day

Stay Hydrated

Now that your kids are back in school, you’ll want to make sure they are aware of how much water they should be drinking daily. Dehydration is one of the top causes of headaches, but eight glasses a day can help prevent this. Remind your kids to drink with meals, and refill their water bottles when needed. If their urine is clear or light-colored, they are adequately hydrated — any darker, and they should drink more water.

For others, headaches can come from strenuous activity. Though temperatures are lowering, fall sports can still lead to excessive sweating, which increases your need for more fluids. To keep hydrated all season long:

  • Drink about 16 ounces about two hours before an activity begins
  • Drink every 15-20 minutes during your activity or sport
  • Drink another 16-24 ounces after the game or workout is complete

Just remember that we should be having a big glass of water eight times a day, or more if needed. This will help avoid headaches, keep away muscles cramps.

Teaching Kids About Germ Prevention

Flu, cold, and RSV season are all in full gear, making handwashing a critical step in germ prevention. When a handwashing station isn’t available, hand sanitizer should be used. Though most know to wash their hands after using the bathroom, hands must be cleaned before eating, or before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

The Proper Way to Wash Your Hands

A quick wash and scrub under the sink won’t do the trick. Teaching your kids the importance of mindfully washing their hands could lower their chance of illness.

  • First, wet the hands with clean, running water.
  • Then lather your hands (remember to get the back), between the fingers, and under the nails. Scrubbing should occur for at least 20 seconds.
  • The easiest way to make sure your child is scrubbing for the right amount of time is to teach them to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end, twice.
  • Finally, rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • If the bathroom has a door, remind them to use a dry paper towel to turn the handle or knob.

Watch for Hidden Germs

Unfortunately, there will always be one or two sick kids in school, and the best way to keep your kid from catching what they have is to teach them preventive measures.

Germs can be airborne and spread, so if another student is coughing or sneezing, make sure your child knows not to share anything such as toys, towels, or food with them.

When sneezing, coughing, or blowing their nose, tissues should be used, not their hands. Used tissues should always be discarded as soon as possible, too. If they happen to not have one or do use their hands, they should wash them as quickly as possible without touching anything on the way.

Another fun way to keep them mindful of not spreading their germs is by encouraging them to sneeze like a vampire: have them wrap their face into their shirt, tucking their nose into the crook of their elbow!

Preventing Widespread School Illnesses

Yes, you can make sure your kid has their flu shot or is appropriately washing their hands, but what about things like lice and pink eye? Though no parent wants to get the school call about head lice, it does occur, and when it does, it can spread rapidly. Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to highly contagious school illnesses:

Head Lice: As one of the most common reasons a kid misses school, head lice thrives in clean hair and is spread through head-to-head contact. Remind your child to never share brushes, combs, or any hair accessories with their friends.

Pink Eye: Another reason why proper hand washing is critical, pink eye is most commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can spread quickly through a single touch of your eye. If your child is experiencing pink eye, they should stay home, and it’s always proper prevention to teach them to avoid touching their eyes in school or public places.

For prevention tips on the common cold and strep throat, read Four Common Back to School Illnesses.

When it Could be More

Beyond the common cold, your child might start experiencing other health issues they aren’t familiar with. Whether it’s an allergy or asthma, openly talking about how they are feeling and the changes that may be occurring can help improve treatment, especially when it comes to asthma.

There is no specific age when asthma hits and, for many, symptoms can vary. Many automatically associate it with a life-threatening or scary asthma attack, but, for some, asthma can be present without a single attack ever occurring. It can still impede your athletic experience and make your day-to-day a challenge if left untreated.

Understanding the Different Types of Asthma

Asthma can occur for a few reasons; here are the main types your child might experience:

  • Exercise-induced asthma: When cold or hot air exposure leads to asthma-like symptoms (tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing).
  • Allergy-induced asthma: Can be triggered by common allergens, such as mold and pollen.

Though each person can experience symptoms differently, the most common ones include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Coughing or wheezing at night or in the early morning

If your child has been diagnosed with asthma, it’s essential to stick to your regular doctor visits. Though not commonly known, for some, asthma can change over time. If your child is experiencing any of the below symptoms, their asthma could be worsening:

  • Frequent and bothersome symptoms
  • Increased difficulty in breathing
  • Needing their inhaler more often

It's important to track these symptoms and discuss them with your child’s doctor.

Though you can do your part in preventing the spread of germs, colds and other illnesses still happen. If your child is feeling under the weather and sneezing, or fever and cold-like symptoms do occur, the Walk-in Clinic in Gillette, Wyoming, is here to help.

We can provide you with the personal and quality care you need. Save your spot in line or walk-in today!

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  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Complex and Internal Medicine, Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, Campbell County Medical Group Pediatrics, Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health, Campbell County Medical Group Wright Clinic & Occupational Health