Prescription medications come in all different forms: pills, syrups, nasal sprays, creams, inhalants, injections, and more. Prescription Injectable medications are liquid drugs that are injected into the body using a needle and a syringe. These types of mediations can provoke feelings of intimidation and nervousness in patients who may wonder, “Why can’t I take my medication in pill form?” The way a medication is administered is determined by the diagnosis, the part of the body being treated, and the way the medication works inside the body.
Why Do Doctors Prescribe Injectable Medications?
Some medications, when taken orally, are not absorbed well by the body. For example, insulin for the treatment of diabetes cannot be taken orally because it is destroyed in the stomach and the digestive tract. In this case, injectable insulin is useful because it enters the bloodstream quickly and is more effective. Prescription injectable medications are commonly prescribed for patients diagnosed with a chronic disorder, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.
Types of Injectable Medications
Injectable medications can be administered in different ways, according to the instructions outlined by each medication. The three most common types of injectable medications include:
Subcutaneous: Subcutaneous injections are administered into the fat layer underneath the skin, and allow for slow even absorption by the body. Common subcutaneous injection sites include the abdomen and the upper arm.
Intramuscular: Intramuscular injections are administered deep into the muscle layer and are absorbed faster than subcutaneous injections. Common intramuscular injection sites are the upper arm, the outer thigh, and the buttocks.
Intravenous: Intravenous injections are administered directly into the vein, eliminating the need for the body to absorb the medication.
Some types of injections can be self-administered at home, while others require administration by a healthcare professional. Injectable medications that need to be administered by a healthcare professional can be administered by a doctor, registered nurse, or, in some states, a pharmacist. Typically, subcutaneous and intramuscular injections can be self-administered by the patient, while intravenous injections require administration by a healthcare provider.
Tips for Injecting Medication
Before self-administering an injectable medication at home, practice with your doctor or pharmacist. Ask your doctor if your medication is available in an auto-injector pen, which may be easier to administer compared to a syringe.
Below are some tips that may help make the injection process easier:
Consider using a numbing cream or place an ice cube at the injection site for one minute before injection.
Move the injection site (at least 1.5 inches from the previous injection site) to avoid developing scar tissue, which can make it more difficult to inject your medication.
Reward yourself after each injection. This may help you overcome the nerves that can oftentimes accompany injection.
Make sure that you are well-versed in the standard injection technique before injecting your medication, including maintaining the cleanliness of your hands and the injection site and how to properly dispose of the needle and syringe.
If you have questions about your medication or how to administer your injectable, talk to your doctor or your pharmacist.
Although pharmacists aren’t able to diagnose an illness or prescribe medications, they are important members of any patient’s healthcare team. Pharmacists are often available sooner than a doctor, and there’s no need to make an appointment or pay for a copay to ask for their guidance. When can you see your pharmacist before going to your general practitioner?
If You’re Unsure Whether You Should See a Doctor
It’s important to make an appointment with your doctor or seek emergency care if you are seriously ill or have a serious injury. If you have an emergency (i.e. if you experience symptoms of a heart attack or stroke or if you are experiencing significant blood loss) go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately.
If you have a minor ailment, such as seasonal allergies, a rash, or a new cough, your pharmacist can help you understand your symptoms and guide you to appropriate medical care. Pharmacists are trained to identify and determine if an ailment can be treated using over-the-counter remedies, or if you’ll need to make an appointment with a general practitioner or a specialist.
To Ask Questions About Your Medication
It can feel natural to call your doctor if you have a question regarding your medication, but pharmacists are specialty trained to know how medications are made, the chemical makeup of medications, and how different medications can interact. The next time you have a question about your medication, consider calling your pharmacist first.
Some examples of questions you can ask your pharmacist about your medication include:
What is this medication for?
What side effects should I expect?
Can I take this medication while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Will this medication interact with other medications and/or supplements I’m taking?
How do I take it? (e.g. What time of day? With or without food?)
To Save Money
Pharmacists can help patients save money with their prescription medications. For example, if your doctor prescribes you a high-cost brand-name medication, ask your pharmacist if there is a generic version available. A generic medication has the same active ingredients and works the same as brand-name medications. If a generic version isn’t available, pharmacists can help patients look for patient-assistance programs that can help them pay for expensive prescriptions.
To Get a Vaccine
Some patients may be surprised to know that pharmacists can administer vaccines to adults, including vaccines for the flu, shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, HPV, tetanus, and more. Additionally, a new authorization by the Department of Health & Human Services now allows pharmacists to administer routine childhood vaccines to children between the ages of 3 and 18, including vaccines for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), varicella (chickenpox), tetanus, polio, meningococcal (meningitis), and more.
In some cases, pharmacists may be able to administer vaccines needed for travel. Call ahead to check if your pharmacy offers the vaccine you’re looking for and to see if you need to make an appointment. Ensure that your immunization records are updated before leaving.
If You Need an Emergency Supply of Your Medication
Under certain circumstances, pharmacists can supply patients with an emergency refill of their medication if their doctor cannot be reached to authorize a refill before their medication runs out. This is referred to as the emergency prescription refill law, or Kevin’s Law. Under Kevin’s Law, pharmacists are only allowed to provide a 72-hour supply of the medication in case of an emergency.
A new law recently passed in Pennsylvania allows pharmacists to dispense a 30-day supply of life-essential medications that do not come in a 72-hour supply, like insulin, in an emergency situation. Controlled substances are not included under Kevin’s Law.
Make Your Pharmacist Part of Your Healthcare Team Today
Pharmacists are dedicated to patient safety and to helping patients achieve optimal health outcomes. Add your pharmacist to your list of trusted healthcare providers. When you need medical advice or guidance, that is not a medical emergency, consider visiting the pharmacy where you get your prescriptions filled, this way your pharmacist is well-versed in your medication history.
Comorbidity is the term used when a person has been diagnosed with more than one chronic medical condition. For example, if someone is diagnosed with diabetes and they are later diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), they would be considered to have comorbidity. Comorbidity occurs in approximately one in four adults in developed countries and can complicate health management.
Unlike acute conditions, like a broken arm or bronchitis, where the doctor is the primary person who manages treatment, chronic conditions are long-term (lasting one year or more) and require patients to take a more active role in their care. Chronic conditions oftentimes need lifelong attention and complex medical regimens. Understandably, patients can feel overwhelmed with having to manage multiple chronic conditions on a daily basis. However, comorbidities must be properly managed in order to reduce the risk of further health complications. Below are some tips to help patients best self manage multiple chronic conditions.
Work Together With Your Pharmacist
Patients with multiple chronic conditions are prescribed multiple medications, and therefore must manage complex medication regimens. Pharmacists can help patients manage their medications as well as address any questions and side effects. Your pharmacist is an important part of your care team that, when supplemented with your primary care physician and specialist visits, can help you improve your health and quality of life.
Pharmacists can help patients avoid adverse effects associate with taking multiple medications. They can also serve as important educators for patients, helping them understand why it’s important that patients take their medication as instructed: For example, why should they take their medication with/without food? Why should patients take their medication at night as opposed to in the morning?
Keep a Journal of Your Symptoms
For some patients, keeping a journal of their symptoms helps them feel more in control of their health and encourages them to adhere to their treatment regimen. A symptom journal also makes doctor-patient interactions more effective, because patients can present their doctors with information that forms a very thorough health history and helps physicians make more informed treatment decisions.
If you don’t like the idea of carrying around a notebook, consider using an app on your smartphone to track your symptoms more conveniently. The information you’ll want to record includes your symptoms, symptom duration, possible triggers (what did you eat that day, and what were your activities?).
Find Ways to Modify Daily Activities of Living
People with comorbidities may feel as if they don’t have much control over their day-to-day routines, and therefore may feel resistant to practicing healthy lifestyle habits, like exercising and eating a well-balanced meal. For example, pain and stiffness in the hands associated with arthritis may discourage patients from cooking a healthy meal if they can’t chop vegetables. An easy way to modify this daily task is to consider using a food processor to make the chopping process easier or to consider buying pre-chopped vegetables. Finding ways to modify tasks that seem difficult or impossible helps patients retain autonomy and helps them adhere to a healthy lifestyle (part of any treatment protocol for chronic conditions).
Properly Managing Comorbidities Helps Improve Health Outcomes and Quality of Life
Patients who adhere to their treatment regimen and successfully manage multiple chronic conditions see improved health outcomes and improvements in their quality of life. Additionally, these patients are at a decreased risk for developing further health complications, which means that they reduce hospital visits and significantly reduce their medical expenses. To learn more about how you can best manage multiple chronic conditions, talk to your medical care team, or your pharmacist.
Routine laboratory testing is one of the most important ways for patients to keep track of their health. Testing can be done on a sample of blood or urine. Seeing how test results change over time can help empower patients to make informed decisions about their health and hopefully, to reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes. Below, we outline some of the most important lab tests patients should consider getting each year.
Complete Blood Count
The blood has many functions, one of the most well known being the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the entire body. A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to give your doctor information about your blood cells. It is used to measure the number of red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes) as well as the physical health of these cells, such as the size, shape, and content.
What can it help catch? A complete blood count can help your doctor identify signs of infection, anemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and more serious conditions like cancer.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a blood test that consists of 14 tests (usually performed on just one blood sample). The CMP measures glucose, calcium, certain proteins like albumin, electrolytes like potassium and sodium, and includes special tests that assess liver and kidney function. Patients may be asked to fast for 8 to 12 hours before having their blood drawn.
What can it help catch? The comprehensive metabolic panel can help your doctor diagnose prediabetes, diabetes, and conditions of the liver and kidneys.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to the proper function of hundreds of processes in the body, including wound healing and maintaining the immune system. Vitamin and mineral deficiency can cause a wide range of health complications, like anemia, fatigue, and even abnormal heart rhythm. A vitamin panel and a mineral panel are blood tests that measure levels of certain essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B12, D, and K, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc.
What can it help catch? An essential nutrients blood test identifies lower than normal levels of certain vitamins and minerals that may be causing health concerns.
A urinalysis is a test conducted on a urine sample. Laboratory technicians physically examine the urine; analyze what substances are found in the urine like proteins, glucose, and crystals; and measure the concentrations of these substances. It’s normal to have low levels of certain substances in the urine such as glucose and crystals. However, a higher than normal amount of glucose in the urine could be an indication of prediabetes, and crystals that are bigger than normal, or certain types of crystals, could indicate kidney stones.
What can it help catch? Urinalysis can help identify early signs of diabetes and conditions of the kidneys and liver. When used as a diagnostic test, it can diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder issues.
Since blood and urine tests are a good way to identify possible health concerns early-on, it’s important to work with your doctor in order to prevent health complications from developing or getting worse. For example, if one of your tests shows that you are at risk of developing diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you make lifestyle changes to prevent or lower your risk of developing the condition.
A medication allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to a drug as if it were harmful. The immune system protects the body from foreign harmful substances, like infectious bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, the body recognizes a substance as harmful when it is harmless–this is referred to as an allergy.
Adverse drug reactions, also referred to as unwanted and/or unexpected drug reactions, are common and oftentimes are mild, but not all adverse drug reactions are a true drug allergy. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 5 to 10 percent of adverse reactions to medications are considered an allergy. Although a true medication allergy is not as common as one might think, it can be very serious and even life-threatening.
What Are the Signs of a Drug Allergy?
An allergic immune response to medication causes inflammation in the body which can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
Skin reactions such as rash and hives are the most common signs of an allergic reaction to a drug. An allergic reaction can occur almost immediately or can happen a few weeks after starting the medication. For example, a patient may not show any signs of an allergic reaction, then weeks after starting the medication, they notice a rash.
A severe drug allergy can cause a potentially life-threatening response, called anaphylaxis, which appears as:
Swelling in the face or throat
Anaphylaxis typically occurs within one hour of taking a medication, but in some cases, the reaction can start several hours, up to 12 hours, after taking the medication.
What’s the Difference Between a Side Effect and a Drug Allergy?
A medication allergy involves a response from the immune system and always causes a negative reaction. The risk of developing an allergy increases when a medication is taken frequently. Topical and injectable prescriptions are more likely to cause allergic reactions.
Side effects are a consequence of how the medication works and does not involve an immune response. Common side effects can include:
Drowsiness and/or fatigue
Side effects can be temporary and may go away as the body grows accustomed to the medication.
Before starting a new medication, read the medication guide that comes with the prescription. Medication guides outline side effects that patients may experience while taking the prescription drug. If you have any questions or are experiencing adverse effects that you think may be an allergic reaction, call your doctor as soon as possible.
What to Do if You Notice a Drug Allergy
If you have signs of a severe drug allergy or suspect anaphylaxis, call 911 or seek emergency medical help immediately. If you notice mild signs of a drug allergy, stop taking the drug and call your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can help you determine if the reaction you’re having is a true drug allergy. Your doctor may perform certain tests to confirm the allergy. If needed, you’ll be prescribed an alternative medication.
If you have a known drug allergy, tell your pharmacist and all of your healthcare providers. It is also recommended that people with known drug allergies carry a card or wear a bracelet that states the allergy. This information could save their lives in an emergency.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both chronic (long-term) conditions that cause blood sugar levels to be consistently too high. When blood sugar levels are too high for extended periods, it can cause health complications, like cardiovascular disease and neuropathy (nerve damage).
The Symptoms of Diabetes
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes share similar signs and symptoms, including:
Unexplained weight loss
Most people who are in the early stages of type 2 diabetes may not have any noticeable symptoms–type 2 diabetes tends to come on slowly, and therefore symptoms can progress slowly.
People who have type 1 diabetes may notice that symptoms come on quickly and are severe.
How Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Are Different
Why They Cause High Blood Sugar
With type 1 diabetes, beta cells in the pancreas (cells that make insulin) are damaged and therefore do not make insulin or make very little insulin. Insulin is a hormone that directs cells throughout the body to take in glucose so they can use it for energy. When there is a deficit of insulin, the cells are unable to properly absorb glucose–this results in starved cells and a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream.
With type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but the cells do not respond to it as they should and are therefore unable to absorb glucose effectively. When the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin, this is referred to as insulin-resistance. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to compensate for insulin resistance. However, over time, the pancreas is unable to keep up with the increased demand for insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is thought to develop because of an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself–more specifically the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Scientists currently believe that a viral infection could trigger the immune response that leads to the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is thought to develop as a result of certain lifestyle factors. People who are overweight and physically inactive are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different environmental risk factors, both types of diabetes are thought to be caused, at least in part, by inheriting certain genes.
There is currently no cure for either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Both conditions are treated using lifelong therapies, including diet and lifestyle changes, blood sugar monitoring, and insulin therapy. It’s important for patients to follow their treatment plan as outlined by their diabetes management team. If blood sugar levels aren’t well-controlled, it can lead to serious health complications like kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and nerve damage.
In 2019, approximately 3.8 billion prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies across the US. But your pharmacist does more than just fill your prescription. Your pharmacist ensures your total safety when filling your prescription and they can answer any question you have about your medication. It’s a great idea for patients to build a good relationship with their pharmacist. The next time you get a prescription filled, ask your pharmacist the following questions:
1. What is the Name of the Medication and What Is it For?
It’s important for patients to learn the names of all of their medications as well as why they take them. It’s also important for patients to keep a list of their medications with them at all times. For patients who see multiple doctors, their doctors will want to keep up-to-date and know what medications the patient is currently taking and why. Having a list of your medications on hand is also useful if an emergency occurs and medical personnel need to know what medications you’re taking.
2. How Should I Take the Medication?
Taking medications as directed is an important part of achieving desired treatment outcomes. Some examples of questions you should be asking your pharmacist to ensure that you’re taking your medication correctly include:
How long should I take this medication for?
Should I take it with or without food?
How often should I take it?
What time of day should I take it?
3. Should I Take Any Precautions With the Medication?
Some medications can interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications, alcohol, certain foods. There are also medications that can make you feel drowsy and can even cause sensitivity to the sun. In order to avoid adverse side effects, it’s important for patients to understand what things they should avoid while taking their medication. For example, antibiotics increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and therefore increase the risk of sunburn. When patients take antibiotics, they should avoid sun exposure or, if they must be out in the sun for work, wear a hat and protective clothing like a long-sleeved shirt. Patients should never skip a dose of an antibiotic so they can go out in the sun!
4. What Should I Do if I Miss a Dose?
It’s important that patients follow instructions when taking a prescription medication, but missing a dose of medication can happen to anyone. If you forget a dose of your medication, don’t take a double dose, this could be dangerous depending on the prescription. Your pharmacist will give you instructions on what to do if you miss a dose. For example, they may tell you to take your medication as soon as you realize you missed a dose or tell you to wait until your next scheduled dose.
5. What Are the Side Effects?
Side effects can happen with any medication. Although they’re not always serious, it’s important for patients to understand what side effects they may experience while taking their medication as well as what to do. If you experience any unexplained side effects, call your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Have More Questions? You Can Call Your Pharmacist Any Time
Questions about medications can occur at any time. When you pick up your prescription, ask your pharmacist if someone is available 24 hours to take calls. If a question comes up about your medication, don’t hesitate to contact your pharmacist.
What to do if You’re Out-of-State and Need a Prescription Refill.
People who travel in between states for work, or anyone vacationing outside of their home state, may find themselves in a position where they need to fill a prescription out-of-state. Since it’s important to take medications as instructed and to keep up with refills, it can be frustrating to realize that you’ve run out of (or will run out of) your medication while away from your pharmacy. Here are a few ways patients can ensure they have enough of their medication when traveling out of state and, if necessary, how to refill their prescriptions when out of state.
Ask Your Doctor for a Written Prescription to Take With You
If you know that your prescription will run out while you’re away, consider asking your doctor for a written prescription that you can take with you. This will help you avoid the frustration and hassle of trying to figure out how to fill a prescription in the moment. This is a great option for people who know they’ll be out of town for a long time and will need a refill while their away.
Transfer Your Prescription
Transferring a prescription is a relatively simple and quick process, although it may take up to 3 days to complete. To transfer your prescription, contact the pharmacy you’d like to use, and give them the information of your home pharmacy as well as the prescription(s) you’d like to fill. The pharmacists will take care of the transfer process. In some cases, as with narcotic prescriptions, you’ll need to call your doctor and ask them to fax your prescription to the pharmacy.
Ask Your Pharmacist if They Can Mail Your Prescription
Many pharmacies will mail patients their prescriptions at no additional cost. If you’re out of state and realize that you only have a couple of days remaining on your prescription, call your pharmacy and ask if they can mail it to your location. This is a good option for patients who prefer to not find a new pharmacy.
Cut Down on Costs by Finding a Pharmacy That Takes Your Insurance
It can be tempting to visit the first pharmacy you find when you’re nervous about filling a prescription. But filling prescriptions at a pharmacy that’s not in your insurance provider’s network can be expensive. To save costs, make sure to find a pharmacy that’s in-network with your insurance provider.
Consider These Tips When Traveling With Medication
To ensure that your trip goes smoothly, consider following these tips for traveling with medication:
Carry a list of your medications as well as the dosage and frequency you take them.
If you’re flying, keep your medication in your carry-on.
Keep your medications stored in their labeled bottles.
If you’re traveling to another time zone, make sure to adjust your medicine to your new time zone.
When you go to the pharmacy, it can appear as if everything is already pre-packaged and ready to be dispensed immediately. But, when your pharmacist receives your prescription, you have to wait to pick it up. What happens behind the counter? And why do you have to wait to get your prescription? Below we outline the steps pharmacists take to ensure safety and accuracy when filling prescriptions.
1. Information Input
The pharmacist enters your prescription information into the pharmacy’s data system. If you deliver your prescription to the pharmacy, the pharmacist will input your information at the drop-off window and add your prescription to your profile for same-day pickup. If your doctor sends the prescription to the pharmacy, a pharmacist will enter your information into the system before beginning with the dispensing process and will call you when your prescription is ready.
2. Verification of Insurance Benefits and Copays
The pharmacist checks your insurance coverage to verify whether your insurance plan covers the medication your doctor prescribed. If your prescription is not covered under your insurance plan, you have a few options:
Pay for the medication out-of-pocket
Opt for a generic version of your prescription (a generic medication has the same active ingredients as brand-name medications and costs less)
Ask your doctor for a different medication that is covered by your insurance plan
3. Prescription Review
The pharmacist checks the prescription against your medical history and your current medications (including vitamins and other non-prescription medications you’ve told your pharmacist about). It’s important to tell your pharmacist if you have any known allergies to medications.
Pharmacists make a thorough review of your prescription to make sure it is right for you, including if:
Your new prescription will interact negatively with any current medications
You’ve been prescribed more than one medication that serves the same purpose
Your doctor prescribed you the appropriate dose
You have any allergies to the prescription
The prescription will exacerbate any current health problems (for example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may make high blood pressure worse)
4. If Necessary, Coordination With the Prescribing Physician
If the pharmacist finds an interaction between your new prescription and one you’re currently taking, they will call your doctor. The pharmacist will try to solve the issue as quickly as possible to get your prescription prepared, but the time it takes to solve any issue with your prescription depends on how quickly your doctor responds.
5. Prescription Preparation
Your medication is filled and marked with your information. Some medications are filled using a dispensing machine that automates the process, while some medications are hand-counted.
6. Second Verification
After your prescription has been filled, a pharmacist double-checks that the correct medication, with the correct dosage, was dispensed. They also double-check that all of the treatment information is correct, such as the directions for taking the medications. Information about your medication is printed out and included with your prescription.
7. Prescription Pickup and Education
Completed orders are bagged and carefully organized in bins. When you pick up your medication, the pharmacist will ask for identifying information (like your name and birthday) to ensure that you receive the correct prescription.
At this time, the pharmacist will educate you about your medication as well as provide you with any necessary information you need to know to take your medication correctly (e.g. Should it be taken with food? Will you need to avoid the sun while taking this medication?).
At Summit Health Pharmacy, Our Pharmacists Have Your Best Interests in Mind
Pharmacists take many steps to ensure that patients receive medications that are safe. This process can take approximately 10 to 15 minutes if there are no issues with your prescription. Our pharmacists are dedicated to serving our patients and are always available for consultations and questions.
The back-to-school ritual of buying school supplies and shopping for new outfits may have looked different for you this year. As some states report a stable or declining number of COVID-19 cases, while some report an increase, the school year will look different for your child depending on where you live.
Whether your child’s school will open at full capacity or at a modified capacity that integrates staggered schedules and distance learning, it’s important for your child to get the hang of good health practices and establish healthy routines that they can incorporate throughout the school year.
Practice Good Hygiene
Practicing good hygiene helps stop the spread of germs and reduces the risk of getting sick. Some things you can start practicing with your child at home before they go to school include:
Thoroughly washing your hands: Practice how to correctly wash your hands with your child at home— scrubbing all surfaces of the hands for at least 20 to 30 seconds with plenty of soap. It can also be helpful to give your child examples of when they should wash their hands (i.e. before and after eating, after using the toilet, and after blowing your nose).
Sneezing and coughing into a bent elbow: Start practicing the habit of sneezing or coughing into a bent elbow, instead of the hands. This avoids respiratory droplets from spreading in the air and/or getting on the hands, potentially getting others sick.
Avoiding touching the face: One of the primary modes of infection is touching the face (the eyes, nose, or mouth) with unwashed hands. Kids are full of energy, and it can be difficult to get them to stop touching their faces. Some helpful tips to help encourage kids to not touch their face include positive reinforcement (for example, “Good job not touching your face.”), education about germs, or even incentives (like a treat or extra screen time).
Wearing a mask: It may be difficult for your child to transition from wearing a mask for short periods of time to wearing one all day at school. Help your child prepare for wearing a mask at school by encouraging them to practice by wearing one for longer periods of time at home.
Focus on Nutrition
A solid nutritional foundation is not only essential to your child’s physical health but has also been linked to concentration and learning ability. MD Anderson recommends that kids’ lunches contain at least two-thirds of their lunch with plant-based foods, like fruits, nuts, and vegetables; and one-third with a lean protein, like chicken. Try involving your kids when packing their lunch and use it as an opportunity to teach them about eating healthy.
For snacks, try to avoid processed foods that contain high quantities of salt and preservatives and opt for more natural foods like fruit and vegetables with hummus, yogurt, or peanut butter.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is an important part of keeping the immune system healthy. The amount of sleep your child needs will depend on their age. Toddlers should get between 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day, while children aged 6-13 need between 10.5 and 11 hours a day, and teenagers need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day.
Start a sleep routine with your child to help them create good sleep habits before the school year starts. A bedtime routine can include setting a strict bedtime, or a time to start winding down, and reading a book in bed. Electronic devices should be limited closer to bedtime, as they can affect your child’s sleep quality. Consider putting away electronic devices, such as iPads, smartphones, and video games, at least one hour before bedtime.
Get Your Child Up-to-Date on Their Vaccines
Due to COVID-19 quarantine measures, many children have fallen behind their vaccine schedules. If your child will be returning to school in the fall, make an appointment with your child’s doctor to get them caught up on any missed vaccines or to stay on track with their vaccine schedule. Try to get an appointment at least a few weeks before school starts, as vaccines generally take about two weeks to become effective.
Are You and Your Kids Ready for the Upcoming School Year?
Going back to school is an exciting time for kids. Establishing healthy routines will help you and your family enjoy a successful school year.