It's only a matter of time before many New Jersey parents will be dealing with colds, stomach viruses and pink eye — common contact-driven bugs easily spread in classrooms.

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To minimize the risk of getting sick, Rowan University Family Medicine physician Jennifer Caudle points out one of the easiest, most effective ways of preventing the spread of ger.

"Whether it's the nose and the mouth and the throat and the ears, or the eyes or the stomach, for most of these bugs hygiene is one of the best ways that we can prevent them," she said. "That is making sure our washing their hands properly, that they're not wiping their nose and then going to turn a door knob to walk out the door."

When a child needs to sneeze or cough, Caudle notes it's very important to instruct them to do it into a tissue or into their elbow to avoid spreading the secretions into the air and infecting other people.

Caudle offers these tips on how parents can respond to common childhood ailments:

  • Colds. In general, if feeling ill, it is best that your children rest to help fight off cold symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sinus pressure and mild sore throat or body aches can not only keep a child from being able to concentrate at school properly, but may also help spread the cold virus to other children. Children who have a fever should definitely stay home from school. Treat with child-strength, over-the-counter medications, but contact a physician if symptoms do not improve or if they worsen. Contact your child’s physician if an already high fever increases or if it continues for more than 24 hours.
  • Conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). This can be highly contagious, so if you suspect pink eye, keep your child home and call your pediatrician or family physician for treatment that usually includes antibiotic eye drops. Your physician will let you know when your child can return to school.
  • Stomach bugs. Children who vomit or have diarrhea should remain at home. Gradually introduce clear liquids and bland foods. Children can become dehydrated very quickly so it is best to contact your child’s doctor right away to review their symptoms. Contacting a physician is especially important if vomiting or diarrhea persists for 24 hours or if the child has a fever or has blood in the vomit or stool.

Caudle added that "when in doubt about the seriousness of your child's illness, or if your child has underlying illnesses that make them particularly susceptible to the conditions above, always err on the side of caution and contact your child’s physician for advice.”

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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