School and sniffles: What’s a parent to do?

School and sniffles: What's a parent to do?The leaves are falling and the crisp, fall breezes are upon us. While this time of year brings us relief from a hot summer, it also signals the return of “sniffle season.” Keeping kids well calls for more than good luck, and you can take steps to bolster your child’s resistance. Are you prepared?

Has your child had a physical? An annual well-child exam gives your pediatrician the chance to thoroughly assess your child’s health and development. The doctor will review your child’s medical history, perform a complete physical exam, take weight and height measurements and check blood pressure. Other tests may include a scoliosis screening, blood and urine tests and vision and hearing screenings. If the doctor prescribes treatment changes, be sure to inform the school nurse and give her a supply of your child’s medication. If your child plays sports, don’t forget to bring any appropriate forms for the doctor to sign.

Are you up to date on shots? Children need as many as 27 shots by the time they reach 18 months of age—are you sure your child received them all? Ask the doctor to check your
child’s immunization record
and administer any missing doses.

Has your child seen the dentist? Even if your child seems healthy, tooth decay is a bacterial disease that can affect overall  health and lead to problems eating, speaking and paying attention in class. American children miss 750,000 school days each year because of dental problems. Children should see a dentist twice a year starting at age 1 or within six months of the first tooth’s appearance.

Does your child eat breakfast? Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast do better academically and socially and  are less likely to overeat later. Good choices include high-fiber cereals with milk; pancakes or waffles topped with yogurt or fruit; and eggs and whole-grain toast.

Have you taught your child well? The more you enforce good hygiene habits at
home, the more likely your child will continue the practice. Insist on hand washing before every meal and snack and after visiting the bathroom or touching the class pet. Teach your child to lather for 15 to 20 seconds—or for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Show how to cover a cough or a sneeze with a tissue, the crook of an elbow or, as a last resort, the hands and then wash up. Remind your child not to share hats, combs, brushes or makeup.

Does your child get enough sleep? Sleep is as important to health as are nutrition and exercise. School-age children generally need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, with younger ones needing the most.

If it’s been a while since you’ve come in for a well-child exam or you are seeing symptoms of something brewing, make an appointment today. The Fort HealthCare Integrated Family Care clinic is open in its temporary location (426 McMillen St., Fort Atkinson) and our providers are excited to treat your entire family with a comprehensive wellness approach.

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