B2S Health: classroom germy habits

School classrooms are ripe breeding grounds for germs. When you consider the average American child has six to ten colds a year, that is a lot of classroom time missed.

It is back to school and back to the hottest spot for students to get sick.  S.P. Arnett 7th grade student, Emily Smith knows the aches and pains that come along with contracting a cold on campus.  "I felt really sick and I got a headache and I was throwing up," she said.

Emily has dealt with missed classes because of a nasty cold she got from germs that are pretty tough avoid, according to Dr. Dennis Miller with Lake Area Family Medicine.  "You're touching several dirty surfaces throughout the day without realizing that there are viruses and bacteria on literally everything that we come into contact with in every day life," he said.

Dr. Miller says bacteria and viruses run rampant in school hallways, bathrooms, classrooms and cafeterias.  Mix that in with hundreds of youngsters with germy habits - and there is a big lesson to learn in staying healthy.  "Keeping your hands away from your face, especially your mouth, nose or eyes, where you can transmit things on your hands to yourself," said Dr. Miller.

When it comes to preventing colds, personal hygiene is your best defense, but for the flu, it is eliminating those germs and getting the flu vaccine.  This week, the FDA approved this year's flu vaccine that is expected to be available around October.

While students are taught that hand washing is the biggest way to ward off germs, there is a proper technique that takes a little longer than a lot of students allow.  "You need to lather up really good, getting all the surfaces of the hand for at least 30 seconds," said Dr. Miller, "or the length of time it takes to sing 'The Birthday Song.'"

Emily says she is taking the doctor's orders to make this school year a healthier one.  "Washing my hands, using hand sanitizer and eating healthy," she said.

That is an A+ plan to keep students in the classroom and not in the doctor's office.

Sleep plays a big role in keeping healthy and all students should get at least eight hours. A well-rounded diet is also important in protecting the immune system.

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