As thousands of kids throughout New England prepare to return for yet another school year, parents across New England are already dreading the back-to-school illnesses that plague classrooms across all grade levels. Avoiding getting sick around the start of a new school year can be challenging, but it helps to have an understanding of what to look out for. Here are the signs and symptoms of five common back-to-school illnesses, all of which can be diagnosed and treated at ConvenientMD.
1. The Common Cold
Just about everyone knows what it’s like to catch a cold. The end result of infection from hundreds of different types of viruses (mostly rhinovirus), the common cold affects kids more heavily than adults and can reoccur with frequency during the school year. While self-limiting and unlikely to lead to severe complications, the common cold is extremely contagious and can make getting through the day downright miserable.
Signs and symptoms of the common cold include: sneezing; coughing; sore throat; runny nose; congestion; fatigue; watery eyes; headache.
2. Sore Throat
When a sore throat pops up out of nowhere and increases in severity over a short period of time, streptococcal pharyngitis—commonly referred to as “strep throat”—may be to blame. The bacteria responsible for causing the illness spreads quite easily across classrooms, which is one reason why strep tends to occur in waves throughout the fall and winter (and less often during the warmer portion of the year). Strep throat often requires treatment with antibiotics and can (rarely) lead to complications involving the heart or kidneys if not treated.
Signs and symptoms of strep throat include: sore throat (sometimes severe); fever; swollen lymph nodes; pain when swallowing; chills; nausea; vomiting.
3. Ear Infections
Otitis media is the medical name for what many people know all too well from growing up as ear infections. In children, ear infections can be recurrent, stubborn and particularly painful due to the position of the ear eustachian tubes being different than that of most adults. Ear infections can sometimes result from coming down with the common cold, though they often occur without any noticeable precipitating factors. While antibiotics may be prescribed, they are typically reserved for severe cases—often occurring in children under the age of two years old.
Signs and symptoms of ear infections include: ear pain; impaired hearing; dizziness; balance issues; drainage; hearing problems; vertigo; fever; chills; headache.
4. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
One of the more contagious illnesses associated with the start of a new school year, conjunctivitis—commonly referred to as “pink eye”—is extremely common. While pink eye typically begins as a viral infection, constant rubbing of the affected eye or eyes can quickly lead to bacterial infection. Antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed to treat bacterial conjunctivitis, and pink eye resulting from allergies can often be treated with antihistamines.
Signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis include: redness; itching; tearing-up of the eyes; irritation/inflammation of the eyelid; dryness; swollen eye lining; congestion; runny nose.
5. Norovirus (The “Stomach Bug”)
Few viruses hit quite as fast and hard as norovirus, also commonly called the “stomach bug” or “stomach flu.” Like the common cold, there are a number of different types of noroviruses that can cause symptoms, and they’re so contagious that when one member of a family gets sick, the rest usually do, too. Unlike the common cold, however, symptoms tend to be gastrointestinal in nature, often including extensive bouts of vomiting. Norovirus tends to limit itself within a few days, however, the risk of dehydration makes it more dangerous than many people realize.
Signs and symptoms of norovirus include: nausea; vomiting; abdominal pain; cramps; diarrhea; fever; chills; muscle ache; decrease in urination; dry mouth; dizziness.
Visit ConvenientMD to Get Better Today!
While it helps to be vigilant about good hand-washing habits and other best practices for staying healthy, there’s no way to completely avoid getting sick around this time of year—especially for students. At ConvenientMD, regularly treat all of the most common back-to-school illnesses, such as the common cold, conjunctivitis, and strep throat. Our highly experienced treating providers can help get your child feeling healthy and back in the classroom again as soon as possible.
When back-to-school illness hits, ConvenientMD is here to help. Visit any one of our locations in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts to get treated today! Just walk in—8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.