(MayoClinic.com) Does it seem as if your child is sick all the time? In the early school years, your child's immune system is put to the test. After all, young children in large groups are breeding grounds for the organisms that cause illness. Here's why infectious illness is so common — and what your child can do to stay healthy in school.
Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. All it takes is a single child to bring a virus to school for the spread to begin. Consider this common scenario — a child who has a cold coughs or sneezes in the classroom. The children sitting nearby inhale the infected respiratory droplets and the cold spreads. Or perhaps a child who has diarrhea uses the toilet and returns to the classroom without washing his or her hands. Illness-causing germs might spread from anything the sick child touches to other children who touch the same object and then put their fingers in their mouths.Why hand-washing counts
Frequent hand-washing is one of the simplest — and most effective — ways to stay healthy in school. Remind your child to wash his or her hands before eating and after using the toilet, blowing his or her nose, or playing outside. Suggest soaping up for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice.Other school health tips
Common sense can go a long way toward staying healthy in school. In addition to frequent hand-washing, teach your child other school health basics:
Also help your child avoid anyone who has a communicable infection. Close contact with a friend who's contagious — such as play dates or sleepovers — could lead to your child's own illness.
Of course, it's also important for your child to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and stay current on his or her vaccinations — including a yearly flu vaccine. To prevent spreading illness at home, use the same tips for the entire family.
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