Why do kids get sick when they go back to school?
After 6 weeks enjoying time off school, it seems a shame that so many children return to school only to be plagued by various illnesses – the common cold, a cough or even a tummy bug. So why does this happen?
For the past 6 weeks these children have been out and about, coming into contact with all kinds of different people and places, and maybe even travelling abroad. It seems inevitable that they’ll pick up some bugs along the way, and as soon as everyone is back in the same building within close proximity with each other, these bugs can quickly spread. Just ask a teacher!
The first few weeks at school can also wear younger children out after such a long break, leaving them a bit tired, run down and vulnerable to infection.
What can I do to help my child recover?
The most important things you can do for any type of common illness is to make sure your child gets plenty of rest, feed them nourishing food and keep a close eye on their symptoms.
Don’t be afraid to keep them off school for a day or two – not only will this help them recover, but it will also reduce the risk of other children caching the same bug.
Make sure they eat lots of fruit and vegetables – one of the easiest ways to do this is through a tasty soup or smoothie. This broccoli, kale and potato soup is packed full of immune-boosting vitamin C! Other vitamin c rich foods include oranges, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and grapefruit. This will help to strengthen the immune system to fight off the illness quicker.
If you’re struggling to get enough vitamin C into your kid’s diet, try our Nature-C vitamin C supplement which can be used by children aged 6 and over.
Staying hydrated is important too, especially if your child is suffering from a tummy bug. The common recommendations for water intake are:
- 5-8 year olds = 1 litre
- 9-12 year olds = 1.5 litres
- 13+ years = 1.5-2 litres
Remember, however, that if a child has a fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, they will need extra water to replace lost fluids.
What herbal remedies can help my child?
Depending on what illness your child is recovering from, there may be a few herbal remedies that can help.
For a chesty, mucous cough, I would recommend Bronchoforce oral drops, but only for children over 12 years old I’m afraid!
For a dry, tickly cough, I can recommend our A.Vogel Cough Spray for children over 4. This is particularly useful for those lingering coughs that stick around after the cold has cleared up.
Unfortunately, our customer-favourite Echinaforce range is only suitable for those over 12 as well. However, teenagers can also experience the back-to-school bug so the Echinaforce drops or hot drink would be a good option for them. Echinaforce is a great choice for colds, flu and other general respiratory infections.
For a blocked or runny nose, Sinuforce Nasal Spray can be used by children over the age of 2.
When should I seek medical assistance?
If your child’s symptoms do not improve within a week or if they get steadily worse over 3 or 4 days, then you should take them to see a doctor.
If they have a high fever, rash, breathing difficulties, persistent vomiting or persistent diarrhoea, then you should also seek medical assistance.
How to prevent back-to-school bugs in the future
Diet is a vital part of immune function, so make sure your child is eating plenty of fresh, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. This should be an important part of their diet anyway, but it is particularly important in the week running up to the start of school, as well as during the first few weeks. Pack a fresh smoothie or piece of fruit with their packed lunch, and make sure dinner is packed full of fresh veggies.
You should also encourage your child to wash their hands frequently while at school – every time they use the bathroom, as well as before eating. Remember that a quick rinse in cold water doesn’t count! Teach them to use hot, soapy water.
During the first week of school, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, as this will keep their immune system strong and healthy.
For some more advice, read my article on keeping your child’s immune system strong.