Pharmacist’s Corner: Back to School!
By Ursula Chizihik, PharmD
Summer has come and gone and now its time to get our kids back into the school routine. After a summer of sleeping in and doing things on their own time, many kids find that going back to a regimented school schedule can be quite difficult. Back to school also means that cold and flu season is just around the corner. For pharmacies, that’s sure to mean sick kids, frustrated parents, countless antibiotic prescriptions, and dreaded flu shots! Life at home and in the pharmacy gets hectic once kids are back to school! In addition to dispensing cough, cold, and flu medications this season, here is some great advice you can dispense to parents, free of charge!
A Few Basic Tips on How to Keep Kids Alert and Healthy as They Swing Into the New School Year:
- Goals for health, strength, endurance and academic performance all correlate with a healthy diet. Students are more alert and perform better in class if they eat a good breakfast and take along a healthy snack for later in the day.
- Tell kids to drink water as their main beverage. Take your child’s weight, divide by 2, and that’s how many ounces of water they should drink daily.
- Kids should exercise moderately, for at least 20-30 minutes per day. Make it fun! Encourage them to participate in after school sports and activities, take a walk after dinner, or even play in the yard with their sibling or pet. Limiting video game and TV time can help your child be more active.
- Sleep deprivation can make it hard to concentrate. A student can’t concentrate or absorb new knowledge without a well-fed mind and a rested body, so be sure that kids get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Make mealtime colorful, planning your meals around a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories and fat and packed with nutrients. Also limit your child’s intake of processed foods and foods high in fat and sugar.
- Help your child eat healthy and stay fit by setting a good example. Make healthy choices yourself, and the child in your life will model your behavior.
As a pharmacist and mom, I know that despite our best efforts, kids still get sick. Remind parents that if their child is sick and battling a bug, the best thing to do is try to keep their child at home. Remember that viruses spread between kids in the classroom like wildfire! They should do their part to contain their child, allow them to get the rest they need, and help keep their classmates healthy. Finally, if a doctor visit results in a prescribed medication for their child, please reiterate how important it is for them to ensure that their child takes the medication exactly as directed. Doing so will minimize the spread of illness, health complications, absenteeism, and overall stress. If getting their child to take medication is challenging, consider offering to flavor their prescription or suggest Pill Glide to help them stay adherent. We have found that simply allowing kids to make choices, especially when they feel sick, rundown and out of control, encourages them to take charge of their own health. Medicine that is ‘easier to take’ makes it easier for kids to be compliant, and ultimately leads to a more speedy recovery. Healthy kids means back to school and back to work. After all, we know how much kids hate missing school!