Research claims school children will get 10 'normal' illnesses each year

Pharmacists say school children can expect to get sick 10 times a year.

They are highlighting Australian research which points to children catching between three and eight colds during term time, and a couple of stomach bugs as well.

However, the Irish Pharmacy Union says that they are 'normal' illnesses, and hard to avoid.

Pharmacists are reminding parents that it is possible to treat many minor ailments at home and have issued some practical tips for parents on treating the most common childhood conditions.

They said: "Reminding children to wash their hands well both at school and at home is the first line of defence against becoming infected or spreading ailments including cold and tummy bugs."

Research claims school children will get 10 'normal' illnesses each year

Tips for parents on treating some of the most common minor ailments

Colds

Colds are caused by viruses which need to run their course so antibiotics are not needed as they have no effect on viruses. Give a child paracetamol for fever or aches and pains and make sure they drink plenty of fluids and rest.

Sore Throats/Tonsillitis

Sore throats can feel dry and scratchy and sore to swallow and are mostly caused by viruses that do not respond to antibiotics. Usually a sore throat will get better after a few days. Give a child paracetamol and lots of fluids. If necessary, you can get a child to suck on lozenges to help relieve sore throat symptoms. If there are white spots on the throat or tonsils and a high fever or if the child’s throat is so sore and swollen that they have trouble breathing or swallowing, seek immediate medical attention.

Flu

Flu is a viral infection causing fever, shivering and aches and can take a lot out of a child. Allow the child to rest and relax as they will be out of sorts. Treat with paracetamol if necessary and, again, lots of fluids.

Diarrhoea and Vomiting

These are common and spread quickly from child to child. If your child has diarrhoea, keep them at home and out of contact with other children, if possible. Keep the child well hydrated with plenty of clear fluids. You can encourage children just to take small sips if the child is vomiting. If necessary, you can also give your child Dioralyte which comes in lots of different flavours. It is best to check with your pharmacist first to see if this is necessary.

Minor Cuts

Wash the wound thoroughly with warm water. Stop the bleeding by applying a clean dressing firmly to the wound for five minutes. Apply some antiseptic cream and then cover the area with a clean dry dressing or plaster.

Nose Bleeds

Get the child to sit forward and blow their nose clear. Then pinch the fleshy part of the nose for at least 10 minutes to stem the bleeding point. If bleeding persists visit your GP.

Head Lice

Routinely check your child’s hair once a week checking close to the scalp, behind the ears, around the nape of the neck, top of the head and under the fringe. If live lice are found treat the child’s hair with a head lice treatment. Consult your pharmacist for advice on the best product for your individual child, especially if they have asthma or allergies.

Chickenpox

Schools are one of the most common places for chickenpox outbreaks. It presents as a rash of small red patches which blister and crust over. The rash is itchy and fever may occur. It is important that children don’t scratch the blisters as they can become infected. Calamine lotion and paracetamol can give relief. Children should stay out of school until all the crusts have gone.

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