The "back-to-school" season is a busy time -- even in the local medical emergency departments.
According to statistics provided by Children’s Health, there is a predictable spike in ER visits for kids in the months of August and September for a wide-ranging list of ailments.
In 2018, those two months saw 2,527 children visit the emergency department at Children’s Medical Center Dallas for treatment of fever. In addition, 1,000 children sought treatment for abdominal pain, 687 were treated for cough and 200 children were treated for constipation.
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"In some respects, [this is inevitable] when you get large groups of children together," said Dr. Geoffrey Lowe, who works in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Medical Center Dallas as well as an assistant professor of pediatric medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "But many of these things are preventable with good hand hygiene – washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, just encouraging good healthy hygiene habits."
Many of the children’s illnesses can be blamed on common germs and viruses. But some of the spike in symptoms like abdominal pain and constipation can also be attributed to increased stress levels associated with the pressures of going back to school.
"These are real concerns," Lowe said. "If children are having consistent complaints that is a good time to make an appointment at your regular doctor."
Among the many ways that parents can help boost their child’s immune system, as well as reduce the stress level their children are experiencing, is by promoting a quality sleep schedule.
Preschool-aged children should get between 10 to 13 hours of sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children ages 6 to 12 should get between nine to 12 hours, and teens should get eight to 10 hours of sleep each day.