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Starting the school year off with an A+ in health

Written By: Jonathan Garris | Updated: August 25, 2018
Schoolkids raising their hands in class

Experts offer advice on keeping children healthy the entire school year.

With children beginning their first few weeks of school, it’s never too late for parents to keep in mind some helpful tips for their youngsters as they grow and learn. The experts at UT Physicians at Sienna Village offer tips on ways to stay healthy the whole school year.

The Power of Prevention

First up, vaccinations are an important part of routine care. Carman H. Whiting, M.D., a family medicine physician at UT Physicians at Sienna Village, says parents should not only keep in mind scheduling vaccines, but also ensuring their child has a flu vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity begins to increase in October and Dr. Whiting says vaccinations are generally available around the beginning of September. At Sienna Village, the flu vaccines will be offered for $19 beginning in September.

Educating young children about avoiding germs is also important. Older students can also benefit from remembering small hygiene tips to prevent an illness. Dr. Whiting says hand sanitizer and washing hands before and after meals is especially important.

“Parents should keep in mind knowing good hand washing skills – washing hands with soap and warm water for 10 to 20 seconds and using paper towels to open doors,” Dr. Whiting says.

Children of all ages need to be reminded about how they can keep themselves healthy throughout school. They should avoid rubbing their face or mouth after touching things and avoid sharing food and drinks with other kids.

Parents should remember annual checkups are a major component of ensuring children are healthy at each stage of their lives. Checkups are also a time when doctors can discuss prevention and ensure their health trajectory is headed in a positive direction. Doctors can also intervene if they notice anything out of the ordinary.

“We want to make sure kids are healthy, growing and are well-vaccinated,” Dr. Whiting says. “We aren’t necessarily looking for disease, but obviously the chances are better of capturing disease early if they come in for regular appointments.”

UT Physicians at Sienna Village has four family medicine doctors and one nurse practitioner on staff to help with such needs, including Dr. Whiting, Kerry Hincks, D.O., Ryan Walsh, M.D., Pouran Yousefi, M.D., and Andrea Armstrong, FNP.

Going For The (Healthy) Gold

Routine checkups are also an essential part to any athlete’s well-being, especially youngsters that will be playing sports throughout the upcoming school year and beyond. Parents should be familiar with their family’s health history, something Dr. Whiting calls critically important.

“One of the big things parents and physicians worry about is if we are sending an unhealthy kid out to play a sport,” she says.

From the youngest sports stars all the way up to high school athletes, any and all health concerns, like previous injuries or a history of early heart disease in the family, should be brought up to your physicians in time for check-ups and sports physicals. UT Physicians offers $19 sports physicals at locations across the Greater Houston area.

“It’s important for parents to advocate for their child,” Dr. Whiting says. “They should make sure their children are wearing the right protective equipment and if they have any sprains or injuries, parents should definitely make sure it gets checked out by a physician not only for treatment, but to prevent further injury.”

Staying Mindful

It isn’t just physical health parents should keep an eye on as their child ages. Mental health can also play a major role in a child’s development. It’s important to keep an eye out for detrimental shifts in mood.

Dr. Whiting suggests having conversations with children about their well-being and about being in an environment where they feel safe. Professional help is available at UT Physicians at Sienna Village through the services of Saba Memon, M.D., who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. UT Physicians provides help to children who experience difficulties related to issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, behavioral disorders, and emotional disorders. Along with a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Anna Sand, L.C.S.W., provides counseling services at the clinic.

“Parents should be open to having conversations about their child’s mood especially if they see or notice any odd behavior,” she says. “They should be aware primarily of things like anger, withdrawal or isolation. If they stop hanging out with friends, or begin spending a lot of time in their room without engaging or interacting with family members or friends, that is concerning. Another important thing to remember is that if you have weapons, ensure that you lock them up.”

To schedule an appointment with a family medicine physician or pediatrician, call 888-4UT-DOCS.

 

 

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.