Kids Health: Common Back-To-School Illnesses and Injuries

children back to schoolGoing back to school can tax your kid’s health. Catching up with old friends and making new ones can be an exciting time, but one that puts them back in close contact with one another — with a result no one looks forward to: illnesses and injuries.

In the first few months of a new school year, there are lots of germs going around. They’re on desks, keyboards, in the classroom and on the playground where accidents also happen.

Over time, your child will become immune to many infectious diseases. In the meantime, teach her or him to wash their hands well—and often. If your child does come down with a bug, keep him or her home from school until they’re fever-free for 24 hours without medicine.

Common Kids Health Back-To-School Illnesses and Injuries Include:

  • “Backpack-itis”: Overstuffed backpacks can cause head, neck and shoulder pain, as well as lead to bad posture. Use your bathroom scale to figure out what your kid weighs with and without her or his backpack. Make sure the “locked and loaded” backpack doesn’t weigh more than 10 percent of his or her weight. Also, make sure your child wears both straps. A lightweight pack with wide straps and a padded back is a good choice.
  • Colds and flu: Colds are very contagious. If your child doesn’t have a fever, it’s probably okay to go to school. It’s important not to spread germs — so teach your kid to cough or sneeze into a tissue—or an elbow—and to wash her or his hands. When it comes to flu, prevention is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for everyone age six months and older.
  • Impetigo: This skin infection is very contagious. Symptoms include sores and blisters on the face, neck, and hands. Keep any cuts clean and teach your child, not to scratch rashes and bug bites. Thorough handwashing helps prevent the spread of impetigo and also strep throat, which is related.
  • Lice: These tiny bugs live on the scalp, feed on blood and cause itching. Kids usually get lice by being in close contact with someone who has them. To keep your family lice-free, teach your child to avoid head-to-head contact and not to share hats, helmets, hair accessories, towels, or other personal things. Make sure students don’t share cubbies or lockers.
  • Pinkeye: This eye infection, also called conjunctivitis, is easily spread from one kid to the next in school. Signs include bloodshot eyes, itchy and burning eyes, and a yellow or green eye discharge from the eyes. If your child has pinkeye, a prescription for antibiotic eye drops is needed to treat it. Like other contagious diseases, the best prevention is good handwashing.
  • Playground injuries:  Common injuries are fractures, cuts, bruises, and sprains. But dislocations, broken bones and concussions can also happen. Most injuries happen on playground bars or climbers. Make sure the playground is supervised and that your child follows the rules.
  • Strep throat: Strep throat can spread through the student body pretty fast. In addition to a sore throat, symptoms may include a runny nose, high fever, and headache. If untreated, a strep throat could lead to rheumatic fever. It’s important to get a strep test and treat this disease with antibiotics. Teach your child to steer clear of anyone with a sore throat and to wash hands often. Your child should know not to share drinks, spoons, forks, knives or toothbrushes.
  • Stomach flu: This bug isn’t really the flu—but it is a virus and it’s highly contagious. It causes stomachaches, vomiting, and diarrhea. Stomach bugs can lead to dehydration. Teach your child to always wash hands after using the bathroom and before eating. Your child should not share drinks, forks, knives, spoons, or toothbrushes.

Know Where to Go for Kids Health Issues

Your pediatrician or family doctor knows your kid’s health the best, but if your doctor isn’t available and you need health care right away or outside of your doctor’s office hours, minute clinics, and urgent care centers are good choices. Minute Clinics can treat minor illnesses. Urgent care centers also treat minor illnesses and can perform X-rays and more advanced treatment for kid’s health issues that aren’t life-threatening.

Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your child’s medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Go to the ER for urgent conditions including:

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain
  • Fainting, dizziness, weakness or lack of mobility
  • Changes in vision
  • Confusion or changes in mental status
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Broken bones that break through the skin
  • Severe or persistent diarrhea or vomiting
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Poisoning
  • Head or neck injury
  • Suspected concussion

If you take your child to the ER, have key information ready for the nurse or doctor. Keep track of when symptoms started, how they progressed, how long a fever or rash has lasted, how often your child has gone to the bathroom, any medications, who they’ve been in contact with and any other health concerns. Bring water, snacks and a toy for your child.

Talk to Our Nurses

If you still aren’t sure if a trip to the ER is needed, call your family doctor or the Emory HealthConnection where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Drowning and Water Safety

Summer is finally here and it’s time to spend some time in the water cooling off whether it’s at the pool, lake, or beach. As we’re enjoying this weather near the water, injuries are not the first thing many people think of, but it should be. It is important to make sure that you, your family, and friends are staying safe in the water and not increasing your risk of drowning.

You may be thinking, “This won’t happen to me,” or “I know how to swim, I’ll be fine.” While you or others may be excellent swimmers, it only takes a few seconds for an individual to drown. It is important to confirm that everyone in the group has basic swimming skills and to have a designated supervisor while at any body of water, especially if there is not a lifeguard on duty.

Who is at risk of drowning?

There are many factors that may increase a person’s risk of drowning. Here are the five most common risk factors as outlined by the CDC.

  • Swimming Ability: There are many adults and adolescents who lack swimming ability but still enjoy being near the water. Not being able to swim makes drowning an unfortunate, but more likely, reality.
  • Barriers: Without fencing, or other barriers to bodies of water, children may wander into a pool area and could fall into the water.
  • Supervision: Drowning may take place quickly and quietly anywhere that there is water. It’s important to pay attention constantly to people around any body of water.
  • Location: Depending on the age of the individual, the likelihood of drowning may change with the location. For example, children under four have a higher likelihood to drown at in home swimming pools, while those fifteen and older tend to drown in natural water settings.
  • Alcohol: The use of alcoholic substances is involved in nearly 25% of an Emergency Department visit due to drowning, and 70% of deaths due to recreational use of water.

What are some tips to keep drowning from happening?

  • Learn CPR: Mere seconds can be the difference between greatly improving and influencing the outcome of a drowning incident.
  • Always swim with a buddy!
  • “Water wings” and other toys designed for water are no substitute for a life-jacket. Wearing one greatly reduces the risk of drowning.
  • If you are going to the beach, know what each of the different colored flags indicates (these may vary by beach) and obey all warnings.

What to do if someone is drowning

  • Use anything around you to try and bring the drowning victim in from the water without putting yourself at risk.
  • Call others for help.
  • Lie the victim on their back, and move their head and chin backward to try and clear their airway.
  • Pinch their nose as their head is tilted backward and breathe into their mouth with yours to function as a rescue breath.
  • After five rescue breaths, begin performing CPR.
  • After performing CPR for at least one minute, and if no one around you has already called 911, do so.
  • Continue performing CPR until the ambulance arrives.

What is dry drowning?

“Dry drowning” or “secondary drowning” is when a serious amount of deterioration takes place after nearly drowning and also after a period of appearing relatively fine. This is when an individual essentially inhales water through the nose and/or mouth. The water provokes a spasm that impacts breathing, by slowly closing the airway (this is different from drinking a lot of water, as the process the body absorbs it is different).

Symptoms of dry drowning

Although symptoms of dry drowning typically occur after a water incident, symptoms can also appear up to 24 hours after a near-drowning experience. It is important to watch for these signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Cold or bluish skin
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Vomiting

Know Where to Go

If an individual is coughing profusely, sputtering and showing other signs of respiratory distress as listed above, it is best to contact your healthcare professional, call 911 or go to an emergency department immediately.

Or call HealthConnection at 404-778-7777.

10/17/17 Medicare 101 Live Chat Transcript

The Annual Open Enrollment period for 2018 Medicare coverage began on October 15th. Our live chat was a great opportunity to learn the A, B, Cs…and Ds…of Medicare. Topics included:

  • Overview of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D
  • Explaining Medicare Advantage
  • Differences between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage
  • Turning 65 and applying for Medicare
  • How Medicare works if you’re turning 65 but don’t plan to retire

The live chat had a good turnout and the transcript is now available below.

Live Chat Transcript

Oct 17, 11:58 AM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Hi everyone, we’ll get started shortly!

Oct 17, 12:01 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Welcome everyone! Thanks for joining us today for our web chat about Medicare 101.

Oct 17, 12:01 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Please note that all questions are moderated before appearing in the stream, so you may not see yours appear right away, but we will do our best to answer all your questions today.

Oct 17, 12:02 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): We received some questions that were submitted in advance of the chat, so we’ll get started by answering a few of those first.

Oct 17, 12:03 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Q: How does my current health impact my Medicare coverage?

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): A: Your health will have no bearing on your eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B. If your question pertains to joining a Medicare plan, there are different criteria to follow. If joining a Medicare Advantage Plan, the only qualifying health question is whether you have End Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure). Otherwise, if you live in a Medicare Advantage plan’s service area, and you have Medicare Part A and Part B, you cannot be declined coverage due to health.

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): If you are considering a Medicare supplement plan, each Medicare supplement has a different set of health-related questions you must answer in order to qualify for coverage. If you are joining a Medicare supplement plan within 6 months of going onto Medicare Part B, you are in the Medicare supplement open enrollment period, and cannot be declined coverage.

Oct 17, 12:04 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): For more information on these important Medicare enrollment dates or to compare the Medicare plans accepted by Emory Healthcare, please call the Emory Medicare Insurance Helpline serviced by MedicareCompareUSA at (855) 256-1501. You can also learn more by visiting www.EmoryHealthcare.org/medicare.

Oct 17, 12:05 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): The next question we received ahead of time was: How do I sign up for Medicare and when do my benefits begin?

Oct 17, 12:07 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): You can sign up for Medicare by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), online at ssa.gov/medicare or by going to your local Social Security office.

Oct 17, 12:08 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. This window of time can also be used to choose a Medicare insurance plan (such as a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan).

Oct 17, 12:09 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Generally, if you choose to activate your Medicare benefits when you first become eligible to do so, you will become Medicare eligible on the first day of the month you turn 65 (it may be up to 2 months later if you wait to sign up for Medicare on the month of your 65th birthday, so plan ahead). There are some exceptions to this, including but not limited to becoming Medicare eligible due to disability or having your Medicare coverage through your spouse

Oct 17, 12:11 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Next question: What is the difference between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan?

Oct 17, 12:12 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Good question. The first thing to understand is that a Medicare supplement is designed to fill the gaps of original Medicare. Original Medicare is made up of Medicare Part A (Hospitalization) and Medicare Part B (Medical Services). Original Medicare has deductibles and co-insurance the beneficiary is responsible for. Original Medicare also does not cover prescription medications. This is why many people on original Medicare purchase a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) to fill the gaps of Medicare…

Oct 17, 12:12 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): …and they may also purchase a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D).

A Medicare Advantage plan is a private Medicare Plan that has a contract with the government (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). The Medicare Advantage Plan benefits must be at least comparable to original Medicare.

Oct 17, 12:13 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): In addition, many Medicare Advantage Plans feature additional benefits beyond what is covered by original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage Plans often include a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D) for no additional charge.

Oct 17, 12:13 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): There is no one Medicare insurance solution that is right for everyone. For more information visit EmoryHealthcare.org/medicare, attend an Emory Medicare Educational Seminar or call the Emory Healthcare Medicare Insurance Helpline, serviced by MedicareCompareUSA at (855) 256-1501.

Oct 17, 12:14 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Let’s move on to your live questions now!

Oct 17, 12:15 PM
Guest7028 (Guest): How much does Medicare cost?

Oct 17, 12:19 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): There are two parts of Medicare, hospital, Part A and medical services, Part B. Part A, you earn these benefits by contributing to Medicare through payroll deduction for 10 years. Part B, there’s an additional monthly premium, usually $134 a month or more, depending on income.

Oct 17, 12:21 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Most people with Medicare either join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Plan. These plans generally have an additional monthly premium beyond the Medicare Part B premium. Lastly, there are Medicare perspiration drug plans that are either purchased separately or they are included in the Medicare Advantage coverage.

Oct 17, 12:22 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): *prescription*

Oct 17, 12:22 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): For more information, please call our Medicare Insurance Helpline at 1-855-256-1501, M–F, 9am_7pm EST.

Oct 17, 12:23 PM
Guest5996 (Guest): What’s the difference between an HMO & PPO & regular Medicare? Do you find your physician office find one option easier to work with than another?

Oct 17, 12:24 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): A Medicare Advantage PPO refers to a “Preferred Provider Organization”. Under a PPO, members receive the lowest member cost-sharing when they use a plan’s network providers. Under a PPO, a member is permitted to go outside of the network, however, member cost-sharing is generally higher. Alternatively, a Medicare Advantage HMO refers to a “Health Maintenance Organization.”

Oct 17, 12:25 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Under an HMO, members must generally use network providers for all health care services other than emergency and urgent care situations. HMOs also normally require a referral from member’s Primary Care Provider before seeing any Specialists.

However, there are some HMOs that include a “Point of Service” benefit that enables the member to also see non-network providers in certain instances.

Oct 17, 12:29 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): From a healthcare provider perspective, the most important thing is choosing a Medicare plan that your provider is contracted with. The choice of an HMO or PPO comes down to the consumer’s specific needs and preferences. By choosing either an HMO or PPO that your physician and hospital is contracted with will allow you to achieve the best coordination of care and the lowest out of pocket expense.

Oct 17, 12:33 PM
tammy (Guest): How does Medicare automatic renewal work?

Oct 17, 12:34 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): tammy – Can you please clarify if your question pertains to Medicare coverage or your Medicare insurance.

Oct 17, 12:34 PM
Jan (Guest): Does medicare pay for home health aids?

Oct 17, 12:39 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Based on your physicians suggested treatment plan, if home health is necessary for rehabilitation, Medicare generally covers the cost of home health. However, the key to that is a consumer needs to be recuperating from an illness or injury, as Medicare home health does not cover chronic health needs in perpetuity.

Oct 17, 12:42 PM
AnnaZ (Guest): How do I report medicare fraud?

Oct 17, 12:43 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Call 1-800-Medicare or the Office Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477.

Oct 17, 12:46 PM
JJ21 (Guest): I’m disabled. When can I get Medicare?

Oct 17, 12:49 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Eligibility for Medicare due to disability requires the individual to be receiving social security disability benefits for 24 months or have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Oct 17, 12:51 PM
Guest9622 (Guest): can i have cobra and medicare at the same time?

Oct 17, 12:51 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): If you have COBRA and become Medicare eligible, you should enroll in Part B immediately because you are not entitled to a special enrollment period (SEP) when COBRA ends.

Oct 17, 12:52 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): These questions have been great! We have time for just one more question today.

Oct 17, 12:53 PM
Jan (Guest): Does Medicare cover vision?

Oct 17, 12:56 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): Medicare part B covers some vision care, but not routine vision exams. You are not covered for vision correction such as eyeglasses or contact lenses under Medicare Part B unless you need correction after cataract surgery. Many Medicare Advantage plans provide additional vision care, such as annual eye exams, and in some cases, an annual allowance for prescription eyewear.

Oct 17, 12:58 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): To learn more about Medicare Advantage plans accepted by Emory Healthcare please call 1-855-256-1501 or visit EmoryHealthcare.org/medicare

Oct 17, 12:58 PM
EmoryHealthcare (Admin): That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for joining us and thanks for your questions!

Want to Learn More?

We understand how confusing Medicare can be. There are many different types of Medicare insurance available, including Medicare Advantage, Supplements, and Prescription Drug plans. There are dozens of insurance companies offering Medicare insurance and to further complicate matters, healthcare providers do not accept all Medicare plans.

In coordination with MedicareCompareUSA, we are pleased to offer the Medicare Insurance Helpline; a free and unbiased resource for comparing and enrolling in Medicare plans accepted by Emory Healthcare providers. The Medicare Insurance Helpline gets you connected with Emory Healthcare’s Medicare resources.

For more information, please call toll-free 1-855-256-1501 or visit emoryhealthcare.org/medicare