Image Credit: Supplied

How can parents safeguard their children from going down with the usual back-to-school viruses and bugs after the holidays?

Safeguarding children from back-to-school viruses and bugs after the holidays involves a combination of healthy practices, good hygiene, and some preventive measures. It is highly recommended for parents to get their children checked with a paediatrician to ensure that their immune system is working perfectly and can fight viruses. Here are some of the key steps that can help reduce the chances of your child getting sick:

Immunisations: Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date according to recommended schedules.

Healthy diet and hydration: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and adequate hydration can help strengthen your child’s immune system.

Adequate sleep: Ensure your child gets enough sleep every night, as proper rest is essential for a strong immune system.

Hygiene practices: Teach your child the importance of regular handwashing with soap and water and ask them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow when coughing or sneezing, to prevent the spread of germs.

Regular health check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your child’s paediatrician to monitor their health and address any concerns.

Dr Abeer Al Khalafawi, Consultant Paediatrician, Medcare Women & Children Hospital

What are the most common complaints you see with children after they have returned to school?

These complaints can be related to the change in environment, increased exposure to germs, and the challenges of being in close contact with other children. Some of the most common complaints include:

Upper respiratory infections: Colds, coughs, and sore throats are among the most common complaints.

Gastrointestinal issues: Stomachaches, diarrhoea, and vomiting can result from exposure to gastrointestinal viruses that spread quickly in crowded environments.

Fatigue: Transitioning back to the school schedule and increased mental and physical activity can lead to fatigue, especially in the first few weeks.

Allergies: Exposure to allergens in school environments, such as dust mites, pollen, and mold, can lead to allergic reactions.

Asthma flare-ups: Children with asthma might experience exacerbations triggered by allergens, respiratory infections, or changes in routine.

Skin irritations: Skin conditions like eczema or contact dermatitis can be exacerbated by exposure to new materials, soaps, or allergens in school.

Eye strain: Increased screen time for homework or other activities can lead to eye strain and discomfort.

Sleep problems: Changes in sleep patterns due to early wake-up times and adjusting to a new routine can lead to sleep difficulties in some children.

Minor infections: Children can contract minor infections like pink eye (conjunctivitis) or ear infections from close contact with others.

Nutritional concerns: Some children might not eat well-balanced meals at school, leading to concerns about nutrition and energy levels.

It’s important to note that many of these complaints are normal and not necessarily indicative of a serious health issue. However, if your child’s symptoms persist, worsen, or cause significant distress, it’s recommended to consult a paediatrician.

What should parents do to ensure their children’s health is in top shape before they head back to school?

As the new school year approaches, here are some key health recommendations from paediatricians to parents:

Start the school year with a paediatric health check-up. This not only evaluates your child’s nutritional status and growth, but it can also detect early signs of potential health issues before they escalate. An annual screening blood test can provide insights into the health of vital organs. Consider scheduling one for your child. Parents should ensure that their children’ vaccines are up-to-date. A yearly flu shot is also advisable as an added precaution. Sleep is fundamental to your child’s well-being. Aim for 9 to 12 hours of consistent nightly sleep according to their age to support their growth and hormonal balance. Prioritise a nutritious diet, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Proper nutrition boosts immunity and overall health.

It’s essential to talk to your child about handling unwelcome behaviour or bullying. Equip them with strategies to cope and encourage open communication. Ensure your child knows the basics of bus safety as well. Remember, the health and safety of our children is a shared responsibility. By taking these steps, we’re setting them up for a successful and healthy school year.

Please share details on Medcare’s various preventive care services.

At Medcare Women & Children Hospital, we offer a holistic set of preventive health check-ups tailored to each child’s need. As a comprehensive hub for children’s healthcare, we offer a complete spectrum of highly skilled paediatricians who are additionally specialised in fields such as paediatric neurology, gastroenterology, cardiology, surgery, and dentistry. Our priority is to ensure that your child receives an optimal and customised treatment strategy.

Stay informed and proactive with your child’s health, ensuring they thrive both now and in the future.

Do you have any special health check-up promotion for the back-to-school season?

At Medcare Women & Children Hospital, we provide the annual back-to school discounted packages, which are curated by our team of expert paediatricians. The package includes:

● Comprehensive medical examination: A thorough check-up to ensure your child’s overall health

● Blood screening test of Complete Blood Counts (CBCs): A general health indicator to look for signs of disease

● Iron and Vitamin D levels are essential to ensure optimal growth and development.

This year, our paediatric package is priced at Dh479 per child.

We also have a special offer for our flu vaccination package, available at a promotional rate of Dh99 during the back-to-school season.