Students are just about to return to school and unfortunately, so too is the common cold. 

Nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to colds. That’s no surprise given children can touch more than 300 surfaces in just 30 minutes in addition to rubbing their noses or eyes after touching someone or something with the cold virus.

“Stopping the spread of the common cold, particularly during the school year, starts with thoroughly washing hands for 20 seconds before and after meals, after using the restroom, after touching someone or blowing your nose,” advises Dr. Yesroon Patel, a pediatrician on staff at with HCA-affiliated Valley Regional Medical Center. “Plus, children should wash their hands as soon as they come home from school.”

Disinfecting and sanitizing at home and in the classroom also are critical given cold and flu-causing germs can survive on most surfaces for up to 72 hours.       

While kids will be kids, Patel says families can take steps to reduce the likelihood of children catching the common cold or flu this school year.

  • Send children to school with an adequate supply of sanitizing wipes, using them to wipe down their desks at the beginning of the school day or class period.
  • Teach them not to share food and drinks with others when sick.
  • Make sure children use a clean tissue when sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose.
  • As much as possible, keep them from rubbing their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Children need a good night’s sleep, a well-balanced diet and plenty of fluids.

 As always, sick children should stay home and if necessary, see a pediatrician. 

Patel says children should not go to school with a temperature of 100.4 or more, vomiting, diarrhea or uncontrolled coughing. A child should not exhibit these symptoms for 24 hours before returning to school.

About Valley Regional Medical Center

Valley Regional Medical Center is conveniently located at the corner of Expressway 77 and Alton Gloor Boulevard in Brownsville.  With physicians representing over 25 specialties, Valley Regional Medical Center is a leader in a vast array of high quality programs, including surgical robotics program, advanced diagnostic imaging, interventional cardiac catheterization, open-heart surgery, bariatric surgery, laparoscopic and endoscopic surgeries, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, women’s services, pediatric services and neonatal intensive care. Valley Regional Medical is a nationally accredited Advanced Primary Stroke Center and our Emergency Department is designated as an Advanced Level III Trauma Center treating a wide range of emergent needs 24 hours a day. For more information on Valley Regional Medical Center’s programs and services, visit our website at www.valleyregionalmedicalcenter.com.

About HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division

HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division is a comprehensive network of hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, emergency centers and diagnostic imaging facilities in greater Houston, Corpus Christi and South Texas.  Facilities in the Gulf Coast Division include:  17 hospitals, nine ambulatory care centers, 10 off-campus emergency centers, and a regional transfer center that provides one phone call access and support for patient transfers into and out of the HCA Gulf Coast Division Affiliated Hospitals as well as access to ground and air transportation within a 150- mile radius.  For more information, visit www.HCAGulfCoast.com