Top Five Reasons for Missing School

Class is back in session! It’s time for homework, report cards, and (hopefully not too many) sick days.

The Mayo Clinic recently released the top five reasons why children miss school:

1. Common Cold – The airborne common cold virus spreads easily from child to child in classroom settings. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, cough, sneezing, and fever. Cough medicines are not recommended for young children, and there’s no cure for the cold, but here’s how you can help your child feel better:


Offer plenty of fluids, such as water, juice and chicken soup.
Encourage your child to rest as much as possible.
Run a humidifier in your child’s bedroom, or have your child sit in a steamy bathroom.
Try over-the-counter saline nose drops.
For an older child, soothe a sore throat with hard candy, cough drops or gargled salt water. 

2. Stomach Flu – The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is usually caught from an infected person or from contaminated food. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting. As with the common cold, there’s no cure, but you can help by following these tips:

Prevent dehydration with an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte, which can help replace lost fluids, minerals and salts.
Encourage your child to rest as much as possible.
Slowly return to a normal diet, starting with easy-to-digest items — toast, rice, bananas, potatoes. Avoid dairy products, which can make diarrhea worse.
If your child seems dehydrated — is excessively thirsty, complains of dry mouth, produces little or no urine, or seems severely weak or lethargic — contact the doctor right away.

3. Ear Infection – Ear infections, also called otitis media, usually begin with a viral infection like the common cold, and they’re more common among children with allergies. When the middle ear gets infected and becomes inflamed, fluid builds up behind the eardrum and provides a breeding ground for bacteria. While most ear infections clear up on their own within a few days, you can help your child get through it with these tips:

Place a warm, moist cloth over the affected ear.
Ask your child’s doctor about pain relievers. He or she may recommend eardrops or an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). Use the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. Don’t give aspirin to anyone age 18 or younger.

4. Pink Eye – Also called conjunctivitis, pink eye is an infection of the membrane on the eyeball and eyelid, usually caused by a virus but sometimes caused by bacteria or allergies. Note that viral and bacterial pink eye are highly contagious. Symptoms include red eyes, discharge from eyes, itchy eyes, and blurred vision. Antibiotics will help bacterial pink eye, but viral pink eye must run its course. A warm or cool compress for the eyes may help your child feel better.

5. Sore Throat – Most sore throats are caused by viruses and associated with colds. They usually clear up on their own, but you can help with the following tips:

Offer plenty of fluids. Try honey and lemon in hot water.
Encourage your child to rest his or her voice as much as possible.
Run a humidifier in your child’s bedroom, or have your child sit in a steamy bathroom.
For an older child, try gargled salt water, hard candy or cough drops.
If the sore throat lasts longer than a week, causes severe pain, or is accompanied by a fever or red and swollen tonsils, contact your child’s doctor.

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