Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Every year we know it is fall because the temperature drops, the leaves change, and kids get sick. These are the natural rhythms of the world. Meteorologists have already told us about the weather and predicted peak foliage, now pediatricians are warning about the illnesses to watch for this year. Across the state, doctors are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in children, influenza, strep throat, the common cold, and “pink eye,” or conjunctivitis. Be sure to watch your kids for signs of fever, coughing, and sore throat. Many of these illnesses are highly contagious, so keep your kids home, especially if they have a fever.
Doctors also offered advice on how to tell if your child’s red eyes are something to worry about. Conjunctivitis, sometimes called pink eye, has three major causes. The worst is bacterial conjunctivitis, which is highly contagious until it is treated. Bacterial conjunctivitis is frequently in just one eye, with a thicker discharge from the eye. Your child might also say that it is painful, or feels scratchy when they blink. Since it is bacterial, it can be treated with antibiotic eye drops, which will be prescribed by a doctor.
Viral conjunctivitis will be in both eyes, and often happens when a child has a cold already. Most of the time it starts because they wipe their nose, then rub their eyes right after. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not work on viruses, so you just have to wait out the cold. When the body beats the cold, it will also stop your child’s eyes from being so red and watery.
The last kind is allergic conjunctivitis, which is just a bad allergy. Red, itchy eyes are most likely to be this type, but they can be very distracting and uncomfortable to deal with. You can treat allergic conjunctivitis with anti-allergy eye drops, which a doctor can prescribe you. It may come back around the same time next year, so be aware of that going forward.
With colder weather and in-person schools your kids are much more likely to get sick, so be sure to keep track of their health and energy levels during this time of year.