Seven back-to-school illnesses parents need to watch for

The kids are back in class; so are the germs

It’s not just kids back in class. School is now in session for germs, viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses that can make your child (or you) sick.

As a parent, what do you need to watch for? Here are seven illnesses commonly found in schools and how to treat them:


Symptoms: Sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, cough, mild fatigue, fever

Treatment: Home care products may relieve some of the symptoms but will not get rid of the illness. Antibiotics won’t help either — it just has to run its course. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, drinking plenty of fluids and rest.

Is your child coming home with bugs?

Norton eCare providers are available 24/7. Video visits are available for children ages 2 and older.

Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Symptoms: Red, itchy eyes; blurred vision; sensitivity to light, eye discharge

Treatment: Antibiotics, usually eye drops, are effective for bacterial infections. Viral conjunctivitis will go away on its own.


Symptoms: Abrupt onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, and malaise; possible sore throat and cough.

Treatment: Replace fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals), and eat bland foods (crackers, toast, rice or chicken). Avoid dairy products and highly seasoned or fatty foods for a few days.


Symptoms: Itchy scalp. Frequent scratching may cause broken skin or sores to form on the scalp. The damaged skin may weep clear fluid or crust over, and it may become infected. In response to infection, the lymph nodes behind the ears and in the neck may become tender and swollen.

Treatment: Over-the-counter lice shampoos work in most cases, though others require a prescription. The CDC has more specific instructions.

Mononucleosis (mono)

Symptoms: Fever; sore throat; enlarged lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit; facial swelling; general discomfort; drowsiness; loss of appetite; muscle aches or stiffness; enlarged spleen; rash.

Treatment: Talk to your pediatrician or primary care physician. Get lots of rest — sometimes for a month or longer. Use warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) to gargle for sore throat. Take acetaminophen for pain relief.

Pharyngitis (sore throat)

Symptoms: Sore throat (of course), fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, skin rash, swollen lymph glands in the neck

Treatment: If caused by a virus, antibiotics won’’ help and it will go away on its own within five to seven days. However, antibiotics can help if the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection.

Strep throat

Symptoms: Sore throat, pain with swallowing, fever, headache, stomach ache, swollen tonsils and lymph glands

Treatment: Your health care provider likely will prescribe an antibiotic. Gargling with warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) several times a day and taking pain relievers such as acetaminophen can help with symptoms.

Appointments 629-KIDS

Search our entire site.