October 14, 2022 6 min read
It is not uncommon to see a two- or threefold increase in emergency room visits in September and October due to the rapid spike in ill schoolchildren. This period in the calendar might be a vulnerable time for some young students to get sick as they rush back to the classroom.
Around this time of year, a variety of respiratory viruses are prevalent, including those kids and teenagers who are more susceptible to them because they have not yet developed the same immunity as adults. Think of stuffy, runny, and coughing noses and respiratory viruses.
According toexperts, several factors may contribute to children's bad health after returning to school, some of which are discussed below.
Like adults, a child's immunity system defends their body from external threats like toxins, microorganisms (such bacteria, viruses, and fungi), and chemicals made by microbes. This is made possible when various organs, cells, and proteins that make up the immune system cooperate to function and defend properly.
The Immune systemis made of two kinds of defense mechanisms — Innate defense mechanisms and Acquired immune systems.
The innate defense mechanism is the child's quick response mechanism that first responds to an intruder. This defense mechanism consists of the skin, the cornea of the eye, and the mucous membrane that covers the respiratory, genitourinary, and digestive systems. They all serve as physical barriers to protect your child's body.
The innate defense mechanism protects against harmful microorganisms, parasites, or cancerous cells (such as cancer). Unlike the other, children inherit the innate immune system as it begins to function as soon as a child is born. When this system detects an intruder, it immediately takes action by encircling, covering, and killing the invader.
The innate immune system assists the acquired immune system in producing cells (antibodies) to defend the body from a specific invader. After the body has been exposed to this invader, B lymphocytes produce some antibodies that remain in the child's body. The development of antibodies can take many days. However, following the initial exposure, the immune system will detect the invader and protect itself. The child's acquired immune system develops over time.
It is usual for young children in the age range of 3-6 years to experience a cough and cold once a month. It is also normal for kids to experience 6 to 8 episodes of viral fever in a single year. One should not be concerned about this tendency because it is a common occurrence as kids only need to take it easy for a couple of days, drink plenty of water, and take paracetamol as needed. However, some cases of illness demand the attention of a doctor immediately.
Children are exposed to several diseases and environmental conditions in school. Compared to adults, they haven't had their immune systems exposed to as many pathogens. They consequently become ill more frequently when they do come into contact with microorganisms and other endangering conditions like:
A child's reaction to a bad shift in their life may bestress. It is any situation where a child must adjust or change into a situation that is often difficult. However, positive changes, like beginning a new activity, can sometimes generate stress, but these are less prevalent than bad ones, like illness or a death in the family.
Although the right amount of stress can be beneficial, too much stress can impact a child's emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Stress can be in the form of worrying about their grades or schoolwork or issues involving friends, bullying, or peer pressure. If school children consistently face any of these issues, there is a high tendency for them to undergo stress and fall ill.Read more here about how hormonal changes (especially in testosterone) can be damaging for you here, how to biohack your lifestyle here and how you can optimize your recovery in sports while managing stress here.
During resumption, many children get diarrhea, vomiting, and food poisoning due to poor food hygiene. It is a kind ofgastroenteritis that occurs when children consume foods like red meat, chicken, shellfish, eggs, or dairy containing germs. Food poisoning can also result from meals that have not been properly prepared, reheated, or chilled properly or when food is prepared with dirty hands or tools.
Food poisoning is a problem that affects people of all ages, including children. While adults may be accustomed to managing nausea or diarrhea, food poisoning is completely different in kids. Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to food poisoning since their immune systems have not fully matured.
With the start of school, lunch, and recess periods, lunch boxes are returning and kids have probably forgotten the value of hand washing as the habit of using hand sanitizers has spread. Hence, children are becoming ill for a variety of reasons, including food-transmitted illnesses.
Children's sleep cycles are disrupted in the first few weeks or months in school as it is difficult to adjust to an unstructured lifestyle of waking up earlier when it has not been so for months. This erratic change can increase the probable chance of children not getting enough sleep, destabilizing their immune systems.
The sudden change in the environment is another factor affecting kids' immunity. Getting boxed into classrooms will undoubtedly cause a lot of worries and mental disturbance after experiencing complete freedom and free run at home with television, laptop, and smartphone. In addition, exposure to a new environment with different kinds of microorganisms in the atmosphere can trigger some reactions in the body.
The fact that children were not exposed to viruses and bacteria for so long has also impacted their immunity. Children who are frequently exposed to tiny inoculums of viruses and bacteria from their school and playmates during close and prolonged interactions develop the disease or subclinical infection. This results in the production of antibodies and cellular immunity that safeguard them against later illnesses and infections.
During the summer breaks, most children were confined to their homes and glued to their TV screens with no time to perform physical exercises like running, swimming, skipping, and all other outdoor activities. However, resuming school presents them with an opportunity to do all these activities. It would take a huge toll on some children's health, causing them to fall ill during their days of resuming.
Electromagnetic Radiation from technological gadgets all around the school is another trigger to your child's immune system. Children are being exposed to a harmful amount of EMF radiation from computers, WiFi routers, smart meters, smartphones, and even transmission cables, exposing them to a lifelong risk of developing numerous diseases. In addition, these radiations also tamper with the immune system, causing the child to fall ill regularly and develop cold-like symptoms.
There are numerous ways to prevent your child from getting sick regularly. Some of these strategies include:
Teach your kids how to properly wash their hands as this will go a long way toward reducing their exposure to germs. Ensure they do so after visiting the restroom or changing. In addition, teach your child to sneeze and cough into their elbow as opposed to their hands, which are more prone to spread germs. Make sure all eligible family members have taken the COVID-19 vaccine to help guard against it.
When preparing your children for the new school year, there are many things to consider. To make things a little simpler when it comes to their health, ensure you have emergency medications for life-threatening diseases, take note of the possible allergies and triggers, and include supplements in your medications for extra support.
At the child's pediatrician appointment, bring any necessary health, vaccine, and medication forms. If your child takes any prescriptions regularly, be sure to have them renewed and request an extra.
You can have one at home and one at school in this manner (or an extra in case one is lost). Knowing your child's most recent weight is helpful in case there is an emergency when they need treatment because children's drugs are administered according to weight.
Falling ill is a common occurrence many children face as their weakened immunity, and smaller sizes make them vulnerable to diseases and changes in the environment. It is regular for children to experience colds and other minor illnesses a few times in one year. However, there are rare cases in which they demand urgent and professional medical attention.
Regardless, parents should ensure they monitor their wards properly, set up prior plans that would help them tackle sudden illness, teach them hygienic practices, and get their wards organized before, during, and after the resumption.
Updated: July 24th, 2023
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