First, a screening test should be done to ensure there is no hearing loss. Estimates show that 17 in 1,000 children under the age of 18 years have some degree of hearing loss. With only a minority of these children having congenital (from birth) hearing loss, it’s important to have their hearing checked periodically. Screening for hearing loss at age 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18 years is typically recommended. If there is any concern, then the child needs seen by an ENT physician for a more detailed examination.
Secondly, with the close quarters of the classrooms, children will typically have an increase in upper respiratory tract infections. These infections, such as otitis media (ear infection), sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and bronchitis, are most commonly due to viruses and need treatment with over the counter medication. For a runny nose and congestion, I typically recommend a “cold and sinus” medication (dose per weight) and saline nasal sprays 2-3 times a day. However, if this does not improve in 10 days, or gets worse after 5 days, then being seen by a physcian is needed as it could be bacterial and an antibiotic needed for complete treatment. Younger children are more at risk for ear infections and typically have ear pain and fever. If these occur more than 3 to 4 times in a year then ear tube placement is often needed to prevent further infections and ear problems. Children who primarily have a sore throat and fever are more likely to have strep pharyngitis or tonsillitis, and need a prescription antibiotic written by a physician. Children who have multiple and recurrent infections, often need treated with adenoid and/or tonsil surgery. While the surgery is generally safe and effective, it requires general anesthesia and has a 2 week recovery period and only recommended for those with recurrent or chronic problems.
While starting back to school is an exciting time for children and their parents, it’s important to be informed and ready if they begin to experience health issues that are common during the school year. For more information, check out my website or contact me directly.