Ask the Pharmacist – Back to school health tips

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HARTFORD -- It is time for school to begin and whether that means going back to Elementary or High School, there are some health issues that can come up.

The most common issue include colds, diarrhea, medication related issues, and anxiety. Let’s deal with the first two up front, people have been away from school, out in the fresh air, or at home and now they all come together again where viruses can spread. Making sure your kids know to wash their hands before they eat and after using the bathroom, keep their hands away from their eyes and mouths, and to not share food or drinks. A little bottle of hand sanitizer strapped to their bag can also help for times when they can’t wash their hands.

It takes a while for the school nurse to learn what medication your child needs to take and those first few days are a more dangerous time of the year for medication errors. Your child needs to know what their drugs look like, how to take it, how much to take, and not to take any medicine they do not recognize. The medication needs to be well labeled for the School nurse.

New teachers, tougher expectations, and seeing new and old classmates again after a year away can cause anxiety. There are several tips that can help. First, get your kids to bed on time. Sleepy children are less able to cope with stress and feel more stress than those who have adequate amounts of sleep. Second, get kids to verbalize their anxieties. If they can say them out loud and you can discuss it with them, children generally feel less anxious. Visiting the school, having your child talk with their teacher in person or by email, or even role-playing some situations can be empowering. At the end of the day remind them that this anxiety is similar to what they had last year and they got through it then and they are bigger, smarter, and more experienced now than they were before.

Michael White; Dept. Of Pharmacy Practice, UConn School of Pharmacy