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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Common causes of school missing in children

Common causes of school missing in children

Common cold, ear infection, sore throat, conjunctivitis and stomach flu are the commonest medical conditions that affects the child more commonly leading to missing of school

1. Common cold:

The common cold spreads easily through contact with infected respiratory droplets coughed or sneezed into the air. Signs and symptoms may include runny or stuffy nose, itchy or sore throat, cough, sneezing and low-grade fever.

There's no cure for the common cold, and cough and cold medicines aren't recommended for young children — but you can help your child feel better while he or she toughs it out.

  • Offer plenty of fluids, such as water, juice and chicken soup.
  • Encourage your child to rest as much as possible.
  • Run a humidifier in your child's bedroom, or have your child sit in a steamy bathroom.
  • Try over-the-counter saline nose drops.
  • For an older child, soothe a sore throat with hard candy, cough drops or gargled salt water.

An over-the-counter pain reliever — such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) — can reduce a fever and ease the pain of a sore throat or headache.

2. Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis):

Viral gastroenteritis typically develops after contact with an infected person or after eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Signs include vomiting and diarrhea.

There's no effective treatment for viral gastroenteritis. While the illness runs its course:

  • Prevent dehydration with an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte, which can help replace lost fluids, minerals and salts.
  • Encourage your child to rest as much as possible.
  • Slowly return to a normal diet, starting with easy-to-digest items — toast, rice, bananas, potatoes. Avoid dairy products, which can make diarrhea worse.

3. Ear infection (otitis media):

Ear infections usually start with a viral infection, such as a cold. The middle ear becomes inflamed from the infection, and fluid builds up behind the eardrum. This fluid can become a breeding ground for viruses or bacteria. Your child may complain of ear pain, tug or pull at the affected ear, be unusually irritable or have trouble sleeping.

Most ear infections clear on their own in just a few days, and antibiotics won't help an infection caused by a virus. If your child is uncomfortable:

Place a warm, moist cloth over the affected ear.

Ask your child's doctor about pain relievers. He or she may recommend eardrops or an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). Use the correct dose for your child's age and weight. Don't give aspirin to anyone age 18 or younger.

4. Pink eye (conjunctivitis):

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the clear membrane that lines the eyelid and part of the eyeball. Pink eye is typically caused by a virus, often in association with a cold — although sometimes bacteria or allergies are to blame. When pink eye is caused by a virus or bacteria, it's highly contagious. You may notice redness and discharge in one or both of your child's eyes. Your child may complain of itchy eyes or blurred vision.

If your child has bacterial pink eye, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Viral pink eye simply needs to run its course. Use warm or cool compresses on the eyes to ease your child's discomfort.

5. Sore throat:

Most sore throats are caused by viruses. They're usually associated with other respiratory signs, such as a runny nose and cough. Most sore throats go away without treatment. To help your child feel better in the meantime:

  • Offer plenty of fluids. Try honey and lemon in hot water.
  • Encourage your child to rest his or her voice as much as possible.
  • Run a humidifier in your child's bedroom, or have your child sit in a steamy bathroom.
  • For an older child, try gargled salt water, hard candy or cough drops.

If the sore throat lasts longer than a week, causes severe pain, or is accompanied by a fever or red and swollen tonsils, contact your child's doctor. Your child may have strep throat, a bacterial infection that's treated with antibiotics.