Back-to-School Health Tips for Kids

How to prepare your children for a healthy school year

(RxWiki News) Summer is more than halfway over, and that means another school year is approaching. How should you prepare your kids for school?

Here are some important health issues to be aware of as you get your children school-ready.

Head Lice

These parasitic insects are mostly found among human hairs. They feed on blood from the scalp. They are highly contagious and spread through head-to-head contact. Classic symptoms include constant scratching of the head that does not subside, small red bumps and a rash. If you notice any of these symptoms, inspect the scalp for any tiny yellow or brown lice eggs or for grayish-white, sesame seed-sized lice.

Talk to your health care provider to come up with a plan to best treat your child and household. Treatment can vary, depending on your child’s age and what you have previously tried.

Before school starts, tell your child to avoid head-to-head contact, not to share personal items that touch the hair, and not to lie on things or places used by someone with lice. Finally, check the school’s return policy, which in most cases only requires one topical treatment before returning to school.

Back Problems

Even with lockers at school, increasing school loads are forcing children to carry heavier bags. If your children’s bags look too heavy, there may be cause for concern.

When carrying heavy shoulder bags, there is uneven weight on the shoulders. While the short-term effects of soreness may be nothing unusual, in the long term, a heavy shoulder bag can contribute to the spine curving sideways, a condition known as scoliosis.

On the other hand, backpacks pull you backward instead of sideways. This can contribute to a condition called kyphosis, also known as a hunchback, due to the effort to hunch forward while carrying the backpack.

Bags should be less than 10 percent of the carrier's body weight. If a heavier bag is unavoidable, try using larger straps or carrying shoulder bags closer to the body and alternating sides.

Vision Problems

Vision change happens frequently in children and can lead to problems with behavior and attention in the classroom. Because simple vision screenings at school cannot detect the actual health of the eyes, you may want to have your kids take a complete eye exam before school starts.

For sports and outdoor activities, make sure your child wears proper, well-fitting eye protection. Also, teach your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule when using digital devices. This means taking 20-second breaks every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away during the breaks.

Most health insurance policies cover pediatric eye exams. If you notice any vision problems in your child, such as squinting, headaches, holding books close to the face or a short attention span, schedule an appointment with an optometrist.