Back2School: Healthy habits to avoid illness, absences

Myth: You only need a flu shot if you?re in a high-risk category.
Myth: You only need a flu shot if you?re in a high-risk category. (iStock/ia_64)

UT physician Dr. Jeffeea Gullett said as kids head back to school there are a number of illnesses that commonly go around, and there's a few simple ways to make sure your child never gets them.

Eisenhower High School student Rashaye Mayes was getting a back-to-school physical but said she usually never sees the doctor this time of year, because she doesn't get sick.

"I never do, it's only in like the second semester that I get sick," she said.

She's doing something right, because as kids head back to class, Gullett said strep, pink eye and the common cold are, too.

"Some of the kids a lot of times who have illnesses are not getting enough sleep so they might have a simple cold that can be taken care of if they're basically keeping themselves hydrated and getting enough sleep," Gullett said.

In addition to sleeping well, she recommends students eat a well-balanced diet and wash their hands.

"A lot of the things that we see such as diarrhea, such as vomiting ... a lot of those can be eliminated or taken care of by simple hand washing," she said. "The biggest thing I tell (kids) honestly is (to wash their hands) after they use the restroom, and I want to make sure they actually wash their hands for a good solid one to two minutes, so it's not like a quick hand-washing. You're literally going in between the fingers, making sure up to the wrist is completely washed with soap and water and that definitely helps out with a lot of illnesses that can be prevented."

After you wash, she said to turn off faucets and open doors with a towel. Do not touch your face, which will help keep you from infecting yourself.

Rashaye said her secret is maintaining good sleep and eating habits.

"During the summer, I don't sleep as much as I'm supposed to, but when school starts I try to get back to sleeping how I normally do, and I start eating right again," Rashaye said.

Another reason Rashaye doesn't typically get sick is that she runs track.

Gullett says healthy, active kids are less likely to catch colds.

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