Schools send children home when sick: DHA

DHA gives back-to-school tips with regards to ENT infections

Schools should send children back home when they come to school sick, as a virus is easily spread, is the advice specialists at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Back-to-school tips when it comes to ear, nose and throat (ENT) infections were among the topics discussed in this week’s Twitter Clinic of the DHA.

“One of the best ways for all parents to ensure that children do not pick up infections at school is to make sure they do not send their sick child to school to avoid rapid spread of infections especially among young children,” Jamal Kassouma, ENT Consultant at Dubai Hospital.

“Schools should even refuse to accept sick children and ask parents to take their sick kids home.  Sending sick children to school is one of the main reasons school children face recurrent upper respiratory tract infections because the virus spreads fast due to close contact among children who spend several hours in the same environment.”

ENT infections are common among the UAE population and among children in particular. Allergic rhinitis is one of the most occurring in the region, pointed the doctor out.

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways which evolves due to allergens, such as pollen, house dust-mites, environmental pollutants, or animal dander (particles of shed skin and hair).

The symptoms are sneezing, a runny nose and nasal blockage, but if it gets complicated it can trigger sinusitis, which causes facial pain, Kassouma explained.

In order to prevent occurrence, a couple of steps can be taken at home. Carpets and rugs should be avoided, as well as soft toys. AC filters should be cleaned once every six months, and a pillow should be covered with an air-tight cushion, he advised.

Depending on the age of the child, children can be given antihistamine and nasal spray when symptoms occur.

In order to avoid developing any upper respiratory tract infection, parents should be careful when taking the child to the swimming pool, said the doctor.

 “Parents should not take their children out of swimming pools and straight into the air-conditioned environment. Any sudden change in the weather from warm to cold and vice versa, can affect the immunity of the respiratory track and predispose the person to infections,” said Kassouma.

After swimming children should take a shower with lukewarm water instead of hot or cold water, and children with eardrum perforation should avoid swimming without ear protection, he added.

An upper respiratory infection, is an infection in of any of the components of the upper airway. An infection of this kind should not be taken lightly, said the doctor.

 “If the patient has fever for more than one day, a sore throat, headache, earache, facial pain and/or thick discharge from the nose they should visit an ENT specialist as these are symptoms of infections.”

He highlighted that one of the common mistakes parents make is giving the child antibiotics without seeing the doctor first. “Common cold is a virus and does not require any treatment.

“However, if other symptoms occur a secondary bacterial infection can be developed. In that case antibiotics may be required.”

Another common problem among children, seen particularly in the winter months, is tonsillitis, he concluded.

“If the child has a sore throat, refuses to eat and has fever, the child should be examined by an ENT doctor to see if he has tonsillitis or not. It is important that the child is not given antibiotics without consulting the doctor.

“There are international guidelines that ENT specialists follow with regard to removal of tonsillitis. If the child has more than seven episodes of tonsillitis in one year or more than five times a year, over two years, or if the tonsils are significantly enlarged leading to breathing problems, the tonsillitis should be removed.”

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