By Legacy Health-GoHealth
As more than half a million Oregon students prepare to go back to school, Legacy Health offers a back-to-school checklist for health precautions parents may want to take. Alexis Smithers, advanced practice lead at Legacy Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, says, “Transitions are always hard on families, especially kids. It’s a great time to review the basics of healthy practices, from hydration to vaccination.”
Smithers’ top recommendations start with staying hydrated. Drinking enough water regulates body temperature, supports joints, gets rid of waste and may even improve cognitive function in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids and teens drink five to eight cups of water per day, depending on age. Kids can start the day off right with a full cup of water and parents should double-check their water bottle is full when they go to school and empty when they return. Refill it once they are home.
Milk is incredibly hydrating and according to some researchers, it may be even more hydrating than water. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found milk’s hydrating effects to last longer than water because the body retains its fluids longer.
Health professionals expect an uptick in cases of COVID-19, influenza and the common cold this fall and winter. The best way to prevent upper respiratory infections is to stay up to date with vaccinations, such as COVID-19 boosters and flu shots. If kids become ill, contact their pediatrician to discuss symptoms and determine if any treatment is needed.
Symptoms can be alleviated with children’s pain relievers, antihistamines, throat lozenges or decongestants. Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and loosen congestion. Warm liquids can be soothing, as well.
Make sure kids are getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night and taking naps if possible. Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier will help them sleep more comfortably. Contact the pediatrician or visit urgent care if kids are still experiencing symptoms after 10 days.
The start of school, before kids get sick, is a great time to inventory the medicine cabinet. Check expiration dates on over-the-counter medications and make sure prescriptions are filled. Additionally, make sure there is a thermometer, ice packs and a first aid kit that includes bandages in all sizes. Ensure the preferred pain-reducing/anti-fever medications are on hand and ask the pediatrician in advance for the correct dose in case of an unexpected nighttime fever. Pedialyte drinks or popsicles are good for rehydration during an illness.
About 80 percent of infectious diseases are spread by touch, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clean hands prevent illnesses and the spread of infections to others. Put hand sanitizers in backpacks and vehicles. Have everyone get in the habit of washing their hands every time they come home and teach kids to cough into their elbow.
Parents of kids with asthma or an allergy that can cause anaphylaxis should have a documented plan in place at school in case of emergency. Ensure the school has the child’s EpiPen and inhalers on hand and that the teacher is familiar with the plan.
Immunizations, including COVID-19 boosters, HPV vaccines, flu shots and others, protect kids against some of the most common and preventable diseases. Work with pediatricians and school administrators to endure kids are current on all required immunizations. If they are behind on any required vaccinations, make an appointment as soon as possible.
Finally, know about options for after-hours medical help. Plan where to take a sick or injured child after normal hours. Save the pediatrician’s after-hours phone number so it’s readily available for middle-of-the-night questions. Smithers says, “Urgent care is the ideal setting for treating non-life-threatening conditions. The reality is you can’t plan for everything.”
Legacy Health-GoHealth offers pediatric urgent care designed for kids and staffed by pediatric specialists during the day, after hours and on weekends. For more information, visit gohealthuc.com/legacy.