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Flu Season Blues

Tips on staying healthy from Nurse Kelly and Dr. Neyman

To+stay+healthy%2C+get+plenty+of+rest+to+keep+your+immune+system+strong+and+keep+your+hands+clean.+Image+by+Alex+Shupp
To stay healthy, get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong and keep your hands clean. Image by Alex Shupp

To stay healthy, get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong and keep your hands clean. Image by Alex Shupp

To stay healthy, get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong and keep your hands clean. Image by Alex Shupp

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From Sept. 1 to Nov. 1, BHS teachers marked 63 absences for students in the BHS clinic, according to information provided by Asst. Principal Ryan Patti.

During the same time period, 712 student absences were excused with a doctor’s note as evidence.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 25, there were 25  BHS teacher absences called in due to illness or family illness, according to Linda LoGalbo, Director of Curriculum & Instruction/Human Resources for Beachwood City Schools.

As the weather changes, absences due to illness are only expected to increase. Many students will struggle to stay healthy in school.

Nurse Kelly Debeljak is on the front lines of this struggle.

“I see different illness for different seasons, but for the fall, I would say it is mostly people coming in complaining of cold-like symptoms,” Debeljak said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of the common cold include stuffy nose, headache,  sore throat, cough and fatigue.

“There are a lot of serotypes of the viruses that can cause a cold, more than two hundred serotypes,” said Dr. Margarita Neyman, pediatrician at Metrohealth Hospital.

High school students have built up immunities to most of these viruses, providing some degree of protection.

“A cold is caused by direct contact with someone who already has a cold, so it is very important to wash your hands very often,” Dr. Neyman said.

“The best way to prevent a cold is to stay away from those who are already infected,” she added.

Nurse Debeljak advises building up an immune system by getting enough rest, eating well, washing hands and staying hydrated.

As for treating the cold, Dr. Neyman recommends saline drops for nasal congestion, drinking lots of fluid and throat lozenges for the sore throat.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture indoors, which might help loosen congestion.

Students are often concerned about how much school they will miss due to illness.

According to school policy, a student needs to stay home until he or she has been fever free for  24 hours without the use of fever reducers such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.”

The school’s policy is that a student needs to stay home until he or she has been fever free for  24 hours without the use of fever reducers such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.

Nurse Debeljak also recommends that students experiencing secretion stay home until it is significantly reduced. It is also advised that students don’t come to school with a heavy cough because of the classroom disruptions.

“Day three or four of a cold is usually the worst, and colds can linger for two to three weeks,” Debeljak said.

“This is why it is important to practice good respiratory hygiene and a good cough etiquette,” Dr. Neyman said.

The rate at which one flushes out the common cold completely differs based on the strength of one’s immune system, according to Debeljak.

“If a student suddenly developed a high fever, more facial pain, more nasal discharges or more coughing, then that person needs to be seen because it is possible to have a complication such as an acute bacterial sinus infection,” Dr. Neyman said.

Day three or four of a cold is usually the worst, and colds can linger for two to three weeks.”

— Nurse Kelly Debeljak

Debeljak doesn’t always know which illnesses are most prevalent in the high school.

“When parents call in for their children, they usually don’t say what they are sick with,” she said.

Nurse Debeljak did offer frequency rates about illnesses such as the stomach flu in elementary buildings that could also pertain to the high school.

“When we have stomach viruses, you will see it cycle. So if we have one or two cases in the building, you’re probably going to see another two to five cases pop up because another child was exposed to it,” Debeljak said.

Other common school illnesses, such as pink eye or lice, common in elementary schools, are less likely  at the high school level. Nurse Debeljak hypothesizes that kids aren’t sharing things such as toys, and high school students  are more responsible about washing their hands, staying clean, throwing away Kleenex and not playing with their faces.

The best ways to stay healthy, it seems, are to keep clean in order to avoid exposure and get plenty of rest in order to maintain a strong immune system.

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Flu Season Blues