During the month of August, parents prepare for their children to go back to school. They order books on Amazon, take multiple trips to Staples for pencils and paper and sign their children up for football and soccer teams. But a key step in back-to-school prep, says Innovation Health’s Dr. Sunil Budhrani, is taking measures to ensure your child’s health.
Working in the emergency room, Budhrani sees patients with an array of health concerns every day. When school is back in session, however, he notices a spike in children coming into the ER. This is because the start of school coincides with the beginning of the flu season and changes in weather. Add students’ close proximity in classrooms to the mix and germs spread like wildfire.
Luckily, there are several ways to prevent your child from getting sick throughout the school year. Before school starts, parents should take their children to the doctor’s office for a physical, regardless of whether or not the school requires one, to better understand their child’s health and needs.
At home, parents should teach their children to regularly wash their hands to avoid spreading germs and to eat a balanced diet to reduce the chance of health risks later in life. The most important meal of the day, Budhrani says, is breakfast. Children should eat fruit for energy and fiber, oats and grains such as cereal or oatmeal, dairy for bone and muscle development and nuts for brain development.
Parents should also educate themselves by learning the location and hours of the nearest urgent care center. Budhrani recommends going to an urgent care center rather than the ER when a child’s injury can be treated there. Often, he sees patients who were in the ER waiting room for hours for an illness or injury that could have been quickly treated at an urgent care center or even at home.
Websites and apps sponsored by health plans or health systems are another great resource for parents, Budhrani says, offering valuable information about symptom identification and how to treat them.
Finally, parents should talk to their child’s teachers about the student’s medical history, such as food allergies, in order to equip the school with the information it needs to prevent students from getting sick at school and to adequately respond if they do.
Parents are much more educated today than they have been in the past, Budhrani says, largely thanks to all of the resources at their disposal: technology, internet, television and so on.
“There is more adherence now, but there is still tremendous room for improvement,” Budhrani says.