Health conscience back-to-school habits

Parents across the country are celebrating the first week of school. But back to school also means back to germs.

Kids are exposed to a horrifying number of germs on a daily basis.

On average, elementary – age children get 8 to 12 colds or cases of the flu each school year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the older kids, it is about half that. Teachers and parents commonly refer to it as the Back-to-School Plague.

But there are simple ways to keep your kids healthy along with proper hand washing, especially before they eat and after bathroom use. Good practice at home is vital.

Dr. Gregory Anderson at Black Hills Pediatrics says, “it’s not a quick rinse in cold water. You have to have soap to wash your hands … rinse thoroughly with good friction.”

Anderson says antibacterial gel will suffice in a pinch, but now some bacteria is becoming resistance to the gel. So the hand washing is extremely stressed. Properly washed hands cut down on gastrointestinal problems, as well as the cold and flu.

A good way to ward off sickness is to keep in good health, which includes plenty of sleep. School-age children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night, according to the CDC. Sleep deprivation lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

Make sure young children and teens have good sleep hygiene that includes a consistent bedtime routine.

“Make sure kids are going to bed at the same time every night – every day of the week. Your body is very good at routines … So, about an hour before bed, start doing the same things … It will help your body to shut down and turn off your brain. And so, by the time that time rolls around – you are ready to fall asleep. “

Anderson says if your child is in bed longer than 30 minutes and is not sleeping, have them get out of bed and do something boring and then try to go back to sleep when they are feeling tired.  And no electronics use one hour before bedtime.

Anderson says balancing a healthy lifestyle includes exercise each day, a balanced diet with guidelines by the government and keeping up with vaccinations, including the flu shot.

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