As the school bells ring and classrooms fill with the excited chatter of students, they bring with them not just notebooks and backpacks, but also the potential for a few unwelcome guests—common illnesses that tend to spread like wildfire in educational settings. From runny noses to stomachaches, school illnesses are a part and parcel of childhood. In this article, we’ll delve into five of the most prevalent illnesses that kids often encounter in schools, with a spotlight on one particularly notorious culprit: tonsilitis.
The Common Cold
Perhaps the most frequent visitor in schools, the common cold is caused by a variety of viruses. With symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and a runny or stuffy nose, colds can spread rapidly in classrooms where close contact is unavoidable. Frequent handwashing, teaching kids to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and encouraging the use of tissues can go a long way in preventing the cold from turning into a school-wide epidemic.
Among the array of illnesses that children face in schools, tonsilitis stands out due to its distinct symptoms and impact on everyday life. Tonsilitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are located at the back of the throat. It can be caused by viruses like the common cold or bacteria like streptococcus (strep throat). Tonsilitis is something we’ve had MORE than our fair share of in the MTW house. Sausage had it repeatedly until she was about 10 and BB ended up actually having her tonsils removed as the frequency and severity of her infections were getting very bad.
Stomach viruses or gastroenteritis are notorious for causing upset stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhea. They can easily spread through contaminated surfaces or food. Schools, with their bustling cafeterias and shared surfaces, are prime locations for these bugs to flourish. Promoting proper hygiene practices and encouraging children to avoid sharing food and drinks can help minimize the risk of a stomach bug outbreak.
Similar to the common cold but often more severe, the flu can lead to high fever, body aches, and extreme fatigue. Flu season usually hits during the colder months, and schools can become breeding grounds for the virus due to close proximity. Annual flu vaccinations for children and teachers, along with staying home when sick, are crucial strategies to curb the spread of the flu in schools.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Pink eye is highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected eye secretions. Redness, itching, and discharge from the eyes are common symptoms. Because children often touch their faces and rub their eyes, pink eye can quickly move from one student to another. Proper hand hygiene, not sharing personal items like towels or pillowcases, and seeking prompt medical attention can help contain pink eye outbreaks.