Is school making my family sick?

If often seems that back to school means back to the doctor for many kids and parents. They always seem to wonder why is school making my family sick?

Schools seem to be a breeding ground for illnesses, especially infections such as ear infections, sinus infections and strep throat. Did you know that almost 80% of what people miss school or work for are ear, nose and throat related issues? These conditions are easily spread in classroom, playgrounds and after school activities.  Encourage your child to wash their hands often and not put pencils and other often shared items in or near their mouth or nose. Children’s immune systems are not as effective as and adults, making it more difficult to fight infections.

school making my family sick
school making my family sick

Children are more prone to ear infections because the Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than in adults. This makes it more difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear. If the Eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked with mucus due to a cold or sinus infection, the fluid may not be able to drain at all. Often times the child’s adenoids, which normally, as part of the immune system, respond or fight bacteria passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria can get trapped in the adenoids, causing an infection that can pass on to the Eustachian tubes and middle ear. How to tell your child may have an ear infection? Is she pulling at her ear? Complaining of ear pain? Having trouble sleeping? Has she recently had a cold or sore throat?

It is often difficult to tell if your child has a cold or a sinus infection, especially for the first few days. Common symptoms are blocked or congested nostrils, drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat, fever, facial pressure and pain, especially in the cheeks, forehead temples and behind the eyes.  The patient may also suffer from a persistent cough, dental pain, ear pain and fatigue. If symptoms last for more than a few days, a visit to an ENT may be necessary.  

For an occasional sinus infections, antibiotics may be prescribed, if sinus infections continue and you have more than 4 a year, the child may be a candidate for an in office procedure called Balloon Sinuplasty, that is a minimally invasive procedure that opens the sinus pathways and immediately relieves the sinus pressure and pain. Patients can usually return to normal activities the next day.

Another common illness often spread at schools and daycares is strep throat. Strep throat is a contagious illness that is spread from person-to-person. It is usually spread typically in the form of airborne respiratory droplets, such as from a cough or sneeze. The symptoms usually begin between 1 to 4 days after initially acquiring the infection. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. The sore throat starts suddenly, and the tonsils and the back of the throat may appear red and swollen. With strep throat, swallowing is painful, often making it hard to drink fluids which can lead to dehydration. A visit to the ENT Institute will allow you child to be seen by a specialist who can quickly diagnose and treat the strep throat infection.

Yes, schools can be a breeding ground for illnesses and infections. It is important to remind you child to wash their hands often, not drink after someone else, and to not put things in or near their mouth or nose. If you do think your child may have one of these common illnesses, call the ENT Institute for an appointment 770-740-1860

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