One of the many teaching moments of our school day involves prevention.

We often encourage your students to drink plenty of fluids so they are staying hydrated. This will help with headaches, sore throats, cough etc.

The biggest prevention tip we share is to wash your hands. This is the best way to help stop the hundreds of viruses in the air or on surfaces from making everyone sick. Viruses from a cough or sneeze can live on surfaces for a few hours; if students touch a table or door knob, then touch their face or rubs their eyes or nose, they have just exposed themselves.

So please remind your students to wash with soap and water before eating, after sneezing or coughing and especially after using the restroom. Hand sanitizers are fine to use if no soap and water is available.

It is also helpful to cough or sneeze into a tissue; if no tissues are available, please teach them to use their elbow. These easy tips can decrease the spread of colds/flu so there are fewer days of missing school and work. Children can get an average of six to eight colds per year, teens two to four per year. The symptoms of a cold are mucous buildup in the nose, nasal congestion, sinus pain, sore throat, cough, headache and sneezing. Antibiotics will not treat a virus like the common cold. The best way to relieve the symptoms are drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest and using over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or muscle aches.

Do not use aspirin for children. They can get a serious, but rare illness called Reyes Syndrome. So please, only adults need to take aspirin.

A cool mist humidifier can help with the dryness of the air and as always, do not expose your children to second-hand smoke.

The common cold can last up to two weeks, but if your child develops a fever and has difficulty breathing or chest pain with worsening symptoms, they will need to see their doctor.

Besides hand washing and sneeze/cough etiquette, the annual flu shot is such an important key in prevention. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine each year. The shot is available now at your doctor’s office, pharmacies and many stores, so please consider getting your family the vaccine. The flu symptoms can be similar to a cold, but more severe. Your child may have a higher fever, extreme tiredness, headache, sore throat and muscle aches. Some children also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, please keep the child at home. Students should be fever-free (100 degrees or higher) for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen before they return to class - no vomiting or diarrhea as well for 24 hours. We are here to help your students. If you have concerns please let us know.

(Lesa Davis and Eileen Patterson are nurses with the Nevada Community School District.)