It's that time of year again and we are gearing up to bring you some great advice on getting you and your kids back into school mode!
SLEEP Parents should try to ensure their child gets sufficient sleep, usually eight hours for a growing child and even more for a teen. Try to transition kids into a consistent school-night routine a few weeks before school starts. Cutting back on computer games and tv before bed and encouraging reading or playing quiet games will help your child with this transition.
GOOD NUTRITION Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast are more alert, have more energy, have better concentration and do better in school. Check out what’s stocked in the school canteen and/or vending machines. Drinking just one can of soft drink a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options to send in your child's lunch. Good nutrition helps children to focus and concentrate and will help their bodies fight off infections.
MEDICAL ISSUES Make sure your child's immunizations are up to date. Flu vaccines are also recommended for all school-age children unless the child has an allergy to the vaccine or a health problem that will cause complications from the vaccine.
Ensure the school nurse and teachers know about any medical conditions your child may have, particularly food allergies, asthma, diabetes, and any other conditions that may need to be managed during the school day A new school year coincides with a new allergy season. Children who suffer from allergies get a triple whammy in school where dust mites, mould, and other allergens may flourish in the classroom. For some kids, it means a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. For others, these allergens can trigger asthma or lead indirectly to sinus infections. Discuss any allergy concerns with the school at the start of the school year.
Make arrangements with the school to administer any medications your child might need. Keep medication in the pharmacy bottle, clearly marked. Ensure the teachers know about any conditions that may affect how your child learns (eg kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should be seated in the front of the room, and a child with vision problems should sit near the board) Although it's normal to be anxious in any new situation, a few kids develop real physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches, associated with the start of school. If you're concerned that your child's worries go beyond the normal back-to-school jitters, speak with your child's doctor, teacher, or school counsellor. Try to ensure your kids know you're there to listen to their feelings and concerns, and that you don't expect perfection, only that they try their best.
The most effective way to avoid spreading or catching germs is to encourage hand washing. Simple soap and water is best, but hand sanitizers will do when those aren't available. Remind your children to always cough or sneeze into the crooks of their elbows or into their sleeves.
SCHOOL BAGS It is recommended that a school bag should not be more than 15% of the child's body weight. Choose a backpack that is lightweight and has two wide, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt and a padded back. Always use both shoulder straps. Pack light, leave unnecessary items at home or in the school locker.
STOCKING UP Stock up on all of the necessary school supplies. Letting kids pick out a new lunchbox and a set of pens, pencils, binders, etc. This helps get them geared up for going back to school.
VITAMINS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL Because it is often difficult to ensure your child is getting all the nutrients they need from food alone, a well-balanced multivitamin high in B vitamins can often help children fill in the nutrition gaps. To help prevent busy, active children from becoming very fatigued, or after a period of illness, Pharmaton Kiddi Health and Vivioptal Junior both provide an excellent range of quality ingredients. They have a good levels of the B vitamins, which are important for the correct functioning of the nervous system and for turning carbohydrates into energy. Pharmaton Kiddi contains Calcium, Phosphorous and the amino acid Lysine to help support healthy growth. It also contains vitamin c and zinc which helps support good immune health and prevent children picking up colds and flus when they go back to school. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for growing minds and have been shown to help improve concentration levels and brain function if taken for a period of six months. The ‘Morepa mini smartfats’ and ‘Eskimo-3 kids’ in particular have been formulated with high quality omega 3 oils and are really useful for children that don't like to eat salmon, mackerel or other oily fish.
Below is some advice from our pharmacist on how to treat common conditions in children when they return to school.
HEADLICE Check children's hair for lice regularly. Do a visual head check by fine-combing once a week, particularly for younger children. Check around the nape of the neck and ears as well as the head. Look out for live lice and for nits (tiny eggs that may look like dandruff but can't be flicked off the hair). Tie up long hair in a ponytail. Stress the importance to your child of not sharing combs, hats or clothes etc Watch out for excessive head scratching Hedrin ‘protect and go’ repellent spray is a good option to protect your child from catching head lice Treat the hair only if live lice or unhatched eggs are present. Options to treat headlice include: – Pesticide treatments(e.g. Lyclear Creme Rinse) – work by poisoning the lice – Non-pesticide treatments (e.g. Hedrin) – work by suffocating and dehydrating the lice - Nitty gritty Aromatherapy Head Lice Solution: pesticide-free way to detect and remove head lice Always ask your pharmacist for advice on the most appropriate product to use. Treatment should be repeated after seven days to kill any eggs that may have hatched in the meantime.
VOMITING & DIARRHOEA Vomiting and diarrhoea are common conditions in children, especially when they return to school and infections are easily transmitted. The most common cause is a bacterial or viral infection and usually only lasts one or two days and is nothing to be concerned about if the child does not seem particularly unwell. Talk to your pharmacist if symptoms last longer than this or seem to be more serious. Some treatment options for mild tummy bugs include: - Dioralyte sachets: to replace fluids and body salts lost when vomiting or diarrhoea occur. - Tasectan – a powder that can be added to food or drink to help stop diarrhoea. - Biokult Infantis: Probiotics full of acidophyllis or ”good bacteria” that help fight “bad bacteria” and support gastrointestinal and immune health. They contain 7 strains of live bacteria and are high in Omega 3.
THREADWORMS Threadworm infection is very common especially in younger children. The main sign is itching around the anus which can be worse at night when the worms lay their eggs there. The worms look like small pieces of white cotton; you may notice them around your child’s anus or in their poo. Everyone in the household should be treated at the same time even if they don’t have symptoms. Treatment: Vermox. It comes in chewable tablets or a liquid and the general dose is 100mg (one tablet or 5ml liquid) as a single dose repeated after 2-4 weeks. Good hygiene practices (washing hands regularly and washing bedclothes) are important to help to prevent spreading the eggs.
Call in and talk to our pharmacist anytime for advice on treating any symptoms your child may have.