Most common back-to-school sicknesses and what parents should know

Nov 10, 2018

Fall is in the air. You can just feel it. You can smell it. And you can definitely see it: yellow leaves appearing and, of course, little ones piling into yellow school busses and heading into classrooms around every community. And with all those munchkins converging in close proximity with one another, it’s a breeding ground for germs like no other.

That’s where, for parents (and teachers), being informed about colds, illness, and infections of all kinds comes in.

It’s not uncommon for kids to get three to four illnesses per year, and those often occur during the fall and winter. Though they may appear to be sick “all the time,” it is more likely several illnesses they are going through in succession or at close intervals.

Some of the most common illnesses are spelled out below:

Cold and flu

Fluids and rest are recommended for colds, but they ultimately just need to run their course. Pixabay | RachelBostwick


Colds and the flu are not always easy for parents to distinguish from each other, according to Dr. Dyan Hes, but there are some common indications. Cold symptoms include sneezing and a runny nose, fever, and coughs. Flu symptoms may include nausea, headaches and body aches, fever, and vomiting.


Some preventative measures are handwashing with sanitizer and changing clothes after school if they’re really dirty won’t hurt, says Dr. Hes. Lots of rest and fluids are recommended for colds and flu. Flu vaccinations are also a sound precaution, according to Pediatric Affiliates of Hampton Roads.

Pink Eye

A child with pink eye may require antibiotic eye drops. Public domain


Red, itchy, watery eyes and blurred vision with sensitivity to light are some indications, according to Norton Children’s. Greenish, mucusy discharge is an indication of infection.


For infections, antibiotic eyedrops are recommended by schools, says Dr. Hes. Children should stay at home, but ultimately, like colds, the sickness just needs to run its course. Remember to separate the child’s face clothes and towels used so as not to contaminate other family members.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is often mistaken to be a common cough. Public domain


Commonly confused with just a cough, strep throat is usually accompanied by severe sore throat, stomach ache, headache, fever, and swollen glands and tonsils.


Doctors may prescribe antibiotics. Gargling warm salt water several times per day may also help, says Norton Children’s. Pain relievers can help manage the symptoms, but ultimately, it just has to run its course. While some medical papers recommend staying home for 12 hours, some schools say stay home for 24 hours, according to Dr. Hes.

Indications of lice include itchy scalp. ©Shutterstock | JPC-PROD



An itchy scalp, possibly with sores caused by scratching, which can cause infection, are indicators, according to Norton Children’s.


They recommend over-the-counter lice shampoos, which usually work, though prescriptions may be required. It is important that lice eggs are also eliminated, and multiple treatments may be required if lice are still present after several days. Treatment is also recommended, and at the same time, for anyone who shares the same bed as the afflicted child.


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