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A School Nurse’s Guide to Avoiding Illness

By HANNAH STEELE- While school could be considered an incubator of knowledge, it most definitely is an incubator of germs.  During the winter months, illness is spread rampantly through the student body. Avoiding this seems inescapable, but with some simple prevention steps, one can protect themselves from nasty invaders.

Take it from someone who’s seen it all; from measles and mumps to breakage and bumps. Mrs. Harper has been a school nurse at IHS for five years, and a nurse since 2003.  She graduated from Lenape Technical school with an LPN, and has worked in numerous health facilities since. Being around germs her whole career has helped her come up with some easy steps to avoid illness in school.

“Get between 9.5 and 10 hours of sleep each night.”

Surprisingly, lack of sleep can make a person prone to illness.  During periods of rest, the immune system releases protective proteins that are needed during infection.  Antibodies and infection-fighting cells are also decreased when the body needs sleep. Needless to say, getting enough rest can help increase productivity during school while also strengthening the immune system.      

“Eat a well balanced diet.  Eat breakfast, no excuses!”

The phrase “you are what you eat” also pertains to the immune system.  Eating foods rich in Vitamin C can help fuel the immune system by promoting healthy cells and tissues.  These include brightly colored fruits and vegetables like kiwi, oranges, beets, and carrots. In addition, green, leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, are packed with numerous vitamins that can keep the immune system strong.

It’s no joke that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Not only does it give the body much needed energy to start the day, eating probiotics like yogurts or drinking antioxidant-rich teas in the morning can help the immune system be ready to fight illnesses.  

“Wash your hands.”

While this seems obvious, it doesn’t make it any less effective.  Washing hands often and effectively is one of the best ways to keep germs out.  To clean hands properly, begin by wetting hands with warm water. Apply soap to a cupped hand and lather well, scrubbing palm to palm for at least 20 seconds.  Rinse off the suds with warm water, and dry hands with a clean towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet to avoid coming in contact with more germs. If access to a sink is limited, hand sanitizer can be a temporary fix.

“Don’t put your hands on your face.”

From typing on a computer to touching a desk, hands come in contact with millions of germs during the school day.  Touching the face can give germs an easy entrance into the body, while also promoting acne and breakouts.

“Don’t share drinks or Chapsticks.”

When a drink or Chapstick is shared, so is saliva.  Frequent illnesses transmitted via saliva include mononucleosis, meningitis, strep throat, mumps, and the common cold.  Avoiding these nasty illnesses is certainly worth keeping Chapsticks and drinks exclusively for one person.

“Get your flu shot every year.”

Although the flu doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization.  Getting vaccinated every year is the easiest way to avoid the seasonal strain of influenza. These vaccines help the body produce flu-fighting antibodies within the body.       

With a pump of sanitizer and the covering of a cough, being illness free is made easy.  If all else fails, don’t be afraid to stop down and see Mrs. Harper in the Nurse’s office.

 

[Photo by Hannah Steele]

Photo Caption: “Nurse Harper organizes student files.”

 

Hannah Steele

Hannah is a junior co-editor and has been on the High Arrow staff for three years.  In regard to journalism, she enjoys writing the truth and delivering credible news.

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