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Staying Healthy In School

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WILKES-BARRE -- It's back-to-school time, and it's also back-to-fall-viruses time.  One pediatrician tells us those typical fall viruses are already starting to pop up.

Little Amaya from Nanticoke is about to take a big step this year.  She's headed to first grade.  We met her in the office of Dr. Sue Kaczorowski, a pediatrician at Pediatric Urgent Care at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.

"Now that we're going back to the school year, we're starting to see kids coming in with colds, already starting to see some of the fall viruses come in," Dr. Kaczorowski told Newswatch 16.

She said it's not uncommon for school-age kids to get sick 10 to 12 times a year--a cold each month--because children will be back in close quarters, sharing germs.

When it comes to cough and cold viruses, she says there's not much you can do except let them run their course.  But when it comes to a few specific symptoms, it's best to keep your little ones out of school.  Those symptoms include a fever higher than 100.5, a severe sore throat, or flu symptoms such as aches or severe stomach upset.

"Last year it hit us late, it didn't hit until March. We recommend kids get a flu vaccine as soon as possible because it takes at least two weeks for the virus to be somewhat effective," Dr. Kaczorowski said.

In addition, the recommendation this year is to get the actual shot.  The CDC as announced that the nasal flu shot spray, which was popular with kids, isn't a good cover for this year's strain.

When it comes to sickness in schools overall, though, Dr. Kaczorowski says parents and caretakers need to trust their gut, which brings us back to little Amaya.  She had almost constant cold symptoms last year, according to her mom Erica Zegarski.

It turns out Amaya needed to have her adenoids removed.  Adenoids are glands located close to where the nose connects to the throat; frequent infections had enlarged them.

"Know your child.  (You) know that something is wrong, the fatigue, the sleepiness, the constant pulling at the ear," said Zegarski.

There are steps to take to keep your children as germ-free as possible.  The most effective is hand washing.  Teach your kids to wash their hands as often as they can and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available.  Also, teach children not to reuse tissues, and not to chew on pens and pencils. In general, it's a good idea to keep their hands away from their faces.

Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre is holding a free Back To School Wellness Fair on Wednesday, August 17 from 4-7 p.m.  It'll feature health screenings, games, healthy snacks, and giveaways for kids of all ages.  GSWB is located at 25 Church Street in Wilkes-Barre.

1 Comment

  • l8trg8tr

    Hand washing is key but what about coughing and sneezing into your elbow or upper arm? The first two things we taught my preschooler were those. It would also be great if schools, like hospitals would post those little signs about not forgetting to wash your hands. Kid germs…they are the worst! I never miss a cold because of them.

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