With the back-to-school season in full swing and COVID-19 restrictions easing, the start of the school year can seem relatively routine.
This likely includes a return to in-person learning and activities, including the ability to schedule recommended health screenings that some families may have skipped since the pandemic began. In fact, nearly one in five parents skipped preventive care visits for their children due to
Before schedules are filled with classes, homework and extracurricular activities, check out this back-to-school health checklist with steps to take to help give kids a better chance at indoor success. and outside the classroom.
• Get a comprehensive eye exam. Good vision is crucial for success in school, both in the classroom and when playing sports. While school-based eye screenings are valuable, these exams can miss certain conditions. That’s why the American Optometric Association recommends children have their first comprehensive eye exam before age 1 and another before starting kindergarten. If no vision problems are detected, children are recommended to have an exam at least once every two years.
Even after receiving a comprehensive eye exam, it is important to monitor digital eye strain. This condition can be caused by overuse of digital devices, such as computers or smartphones. Some tips to help avoid digital eye strain include keeping computer screens at least 30 inches away, taking breaks every 20 minutes, and investing in screen protectors or computer monitors that help limit eye strain. exposure to blue light.
• Get a dental cleaning. Good dental health can help children stay confident and smiling, and also help their overall well-being. Although tooth decay is largely preventable, it unfortunately ranks among the most common chronic diseases in children. Indeed, at the age of 5, nearly 50% of children have at least one cavity. To avoid this, consider scheduling a dental checkup at the start of the school year and every six months thereafter.
In addition to routine cleanings, maintaining good oral health at home is important year-round. This includes brushing your teeth (and tongue) for up to two minutes twice a day, rinsing your mouth for 30 seconds with mouthwash, flossing daily from the age of 3 around and limit snacks and sugary drinks.
• Take a hearing test. Most schools offer hearing screenings, often every two years starting in kindergarten or first grade. If a hearing problem is identified, a referral for a full audiological evaluation is usually the
Early intervention is essential to help identify the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible, which is important given that hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech, language and social skills.
At home, parents should help children adopt safe listening strategies and avoid excessive exposure to loud sounds, which can contribute to hearing loss over time. Strategies to consider include the use of hearing protection (earplugs or earmuffs) when attending sporting events or music concerts; follow the 60-60 rule, which means limiting the use of earphones or headphones to no more than 60 minutes at a time and no more than 60% of the player’s maximum volume; and invest in headphones or noise canceling headphones.
Back to school is an exciting time, often filled with friends and fun activities. To make the most of this time of year, consider adding these three get-togethers to your family’s back-to-school to-do list.
Dr. Donna O’Shea is Chief Medical Officer of Population Health at UnitedHealthcare.