Nurse’s Note

The Dreaded “E” Word and How to Make It Fun

When it comes to exercise, many of us think of it as a form of punishment. There are probably a lot of other things we would rather do than spend time at the gym, but in order for Americans to win the battle of the bulge, we need to change our mindset. Think in terms of “activity” rather than “exercise.” Aim for at least 30 minutes (for adults) and 60 minutes (for children) of activity on most days of the week. Have fun and play – even grown-ups need to go out for recess, too!  Remember as parents we are role models for our kids.  If we want them to exercise and stay fit we need to as well.   Here are some suggestions:

  • Be creative! Take your child on an adventure hike or a mystery run around the block looking for clues.
  • Play games – Tag, “cops ’n robbers”, and “Mother may I?” If you don’t remember the rules for these games, walk to the library and check out a book on games.
  • Unleash you inner animal – run like a gorilla, walk like a spider, hop like a bunny, jump like a frog and stretch like a cat!
  • Plan active family trips – such as hiking, skiing, snorkeling, swimming, or camping. Take it a step further by bringing along a ball or Frisbee to sneak in some activity at rest stops.
  • Help make chores less tedious by turning them into contests: who can pull up the most weeds, collect the most trash, rake the most leaves!
  • Batting cages, bowling, and fast food play areas all count as activity.
  • Have fun exploring your local community – bike trails, family-oriented health clubs, ice-skating or roller-skating rinks, trampoline parks.
  • When you run errands park at the back of the parking lot and walk-up.  Take stairs rather than the elevator. Walk the mall.

Snack Tips

  • Keep fruits, vegetables, & yogurt on hand for quick, easy, & healthy choices.
  • Choose higher fiber and/or higher water-content foods. For example for 100 calories you can have either ¼ cup of raisins or nearly 2 cups of grapes – the grapes will fill you up faster and longer!
  • High protein foods can help decrease hunger and help you feel full longer. Choose reduced-fat cheese, yogurt, or tuna rather than potato chips.
  • Avoid the temptation to over-indulge by buying individual sized snacks or pre-portion your snacks ahead of time.
  • Take time to enjoy your food and remember it takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you’re full.

What’s Going Around? STREP THROAT

GENERAL INFORMATION: Many human diseases are caused by a germ called streptococcus or strep for short.  While there are many different varieties of strep, strep throat is caused by Group A Beta Hemolytic Streptococcus.    This germ spreads through saliva and other oral secretions such as a cough or sneeze and enters the air in droplet form and invade through the nose or throat.  It can also be spread on the hands if they are not washed properly.

THE ILLNESS – STREP THROAT: When the germ invades the throat of a susceptible person, the most common location of the infection is the tonsils, or in a child without tonsils, the back of the throat.  Initial symptoms are high fever and sore throat, usually beginning 2-4 days after contact.  It is most common in school-age children.  The degree of illness varies from mild to severe.  A child may have low fever, 101-102, for a day or two, recover spontaneously and suffer no complications.  Another child may have 104-105, and be severely ill.  In addition to fever and sore throat, there is loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, drowsiness, and possibly nausea and vomiting.  Examination of the child reveals large, bright red tonsils, usually covered with white pus.  Pin-head-size red spots (tiny hemorrhages) may be seen surrounding the tonsils and extending onto the palate.  The lymph nodes in the neck are often swollen and tender.

TREATMENT OF CONTACTS: The majority of children with strep throat/scarlet fever respond well to penicillin.  To prevent complications, it must be given for 10 days if oral penicillin is used.  For children allergic to penicillin, erythromycin for 10 days is usually prescribed.  In rare cases, other antibiotics may be necessary.  It is usually not necessary to treat contacts unless an epidemic is in progress (this is usually defined as 2-3 cases within 5-7 days).  Should this occur, the family physician and the school consulting physician should be notified.  Household contacts would be more likely to require preventive antibiotic therapy than would school contacts.

RETURN TO SCHOOL: Following initiation of treatment, it usually takes about 36-48 hours for the throat culture to revert to negative. This means that the child should not return to school until he/she has completed an entire days worth of antibiotics.  So if they are sent home on a Tuesday morning and take their first antibiotic that evening.  A second dose is given the next morning the child should stay home until that Thursday.  They should not come to school after taking the second dose.  Return to school is 24 hours after completion of the second dose.   They must also be without fever for 24 hours.

Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands!

Did you know one of the most important things you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? During flu season it is even more important to wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs that would result in sickness. Common illnesses that can be prevented through washing hands includes: colds, influenza, food poisoning, Hepatitis A (food-borne viral illness that causes liver inflammation and gastrointestinal upset, and Rotavirus (common cause of diarrhea), among many other things.

Some activities that you should make an effort to wash your hands before doing include:

  • Preparing food
  • Eating
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Helping a young child, someone elderly or someone who is sick

Several activities that you should make an effort to wash your hands after doing include:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Changing diapers
  • Touching door knobs, railings, or other  surfaces that have been touched by others
  • Helping a sick person
  • Blowing your nose
  • Handling uncooked meat and poultry
  • Touching animals or anything in an animal’s environment
  • Coughing or sneezing

There is a right and a wrong way to wash your hands. The best way is to use soap and to rub your hands together under running water. Make sure to follow these steps for the most effective germ removal:

  1. Wet your hands (very warm water works best).
  2. Apply soap to your hands.
  3. Rub your hands together to work up a lather. Do this for 15-20 seconds. If you are unsure how long this is, sing the Happy Birthday song all the way through two times in your head. Make sure you get under your fingernails, the palms, and the back of the hands.
  4. Rinse the soap off under running water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel, paper towel, or an air dryer. If neither of these is present you can let them air dry. If possible use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

There are times when we are doing tasks or we are places where soap and water are not available. In these situations, another option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This product will get rid of most of the germs on your hands. The proper way to use hand sanitizer is to apply a dime-sized amount to the palm of one of your hands and then rub both of your hands together until they are dry. When using this product make sure to cover all parts of your hands.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.

The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, St. Ambrose Catholic School encourages your family to make healthy changes together.

  • Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park.
  • Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.
  • Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.

Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight.

An easy way to learn about which foods are lower in fat and calories is to think in terms of GOSLOW, and WHOA.

  • GO Foods are: Lowest in fat and sugar, relatively low in calories, “Nutrient-dense” (rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients important to health, great to eat anytime.
    Examples include: Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
  • SLOW Foods are: Higher in fat, added sugar, and calories. To be eaten sometimes/less often.   Maybe just a couple times a week.
    Examples include: White bread and pasta, Tacos, waffles and pancakes, biscuits and crescants, 2% milk, hot dogs and chicken nuggets
  • WHOA Foods are: Highest in fat and added sugar. “Calorie-dense” (high in calories).  Often low in nutrients. To be eaten only once in a while/on special occasions, in small portions.
    Examples include: soda, fruit drinks, whole milk, doughnuts, butter, french fries, cookies and ice cream

For more information please visit: The National Childhood Obesity Foundation at

Allergy Tips

Over 67 million Americans suffer from allergies every day. If you are like everyone else in Houston right now, your allergies are at an all-time high.  We see a huge increase in kids coming to the clinic because of sore throats and stomach aches all associated with the higher than normal pollen counts in our area right now.  Below are a few helpful suggestions to make it through this time of year a little more comfortably.

Allergy Prevention Tips

  • Sign up for allergy alerts so you can easily monitor the allergy counts in your area. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Keep your windows closed in your home and car to avoid letting in pollen, especially when the local pollen count is high. Set your air conditioners to re-circulate in your home and vehicle, to avoid drawing in outside pollen-rich air.
  • The pollen counts are the highest between 5 am and 10 am, so limiting your outside exposure during those times can be extremely helpful for diminishing your allergies.
  • Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry; these will usually be the high pollen count days. Days that are dry and windy also have high pollen counts. The best time for outdoor activities is immediately following heavy rainfall.
  • Avoid line-drying your clothes and bedding outdoors when your
    the local pollen count is high.
  • Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen. Also, change and wash clothes if they’ve been exposed to pollen.
  • Bathe and shampoo hair daily before going to bed to remove pollen from hair and skin in order to keep it off your bedding. Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  • Minimize contact with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
  • Visit your allergist or doctor to see if the allergy shot is for you. Be consistent with your allergy medications for best results.
  • Medicate your child in the morning before school so they are not miserable all day long
  • If you’re traveling, check our allergy forecasts for your destination. Also, be sure to check out our helpful traveling tips for allergy sufferers.

10 Steps to Your Healthiest School Year Ever! 

1. Start off strong with a healthy breakfast.  A good breakfast provides energy and will help keep you alert and attentive in class.  Highly sugared foods leave you feeling tired soon after eating. Remember:  Your school performance is directly related to what you eat!

2. Drink plenty of water.  Water is the best fluid to stay hydrated without the added sugar found in some juice and soft drinks.   Also, remember to drink the recommended amount of reduced-fat milk or milk alternative.  Water and milk are served at school for lunch every day.

3. Don’t forget to wash your hands often.  Keep hands away from your face, mouth, and nose where germs can enter your body.

4. Boost your immune system.  Get plenty of sleep, talk to your doctor about taking multiple vitamins, and eat colorful fruits and vegetables every day.  Think variety and rainbow colors!

5. Eat a nutritious and yummy lunch.  Choose foods from all the food groups.  Different food groups supply our bodies with energy to think, move, and grow.  Make healthy choices from the daily menus, or pack a healthy lunch from home.

6. Cut back on sugar and salty snacks.  Limit sodas, sport drinks, candy, chips, and ice cream – they add extra calories, can harm your teeth, and leave you feeling tired and weak.  Need a snack at school? Ask the nurse for a healthy snack alternative!

7. Enhance your brain performanceExercise, play memory games, do crossword puzzles, and eat brain foods like berries, cold-water fish, and nuts.  Just say “NO” to fast food and enjoy a home-cooked meal together at least four nights a week.

8.  Get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day – at recess and at home.  Go for a daily walk with a friend,  a parent, or your pet.  Exercise helps our bodies to be strong, flexible, and resilient.

9.  Do your homework every day after school.  It’s so important to be prepared! NO excuses!

10.  Turn off the TV and video games at least one hour prior to bedtime. Take time to relax, take a bath or shower, brush your teeth, and pack up for the morning – and still get to bed by 8:30 pm!

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day!

Bet on Breakfast: We have had an increasing number of kids coming to the clinic with stomach aches having not eaten anything for breakfast.  I help them understand that if they have not eaten anything since dinner the night before at 7:00 PM, they have gone 12-15 hours without anything to eat.  Mornings can be chaotic, leaving breakfast and better nutrition in the lurch. Research shows that kids who eat breakfast take in more of the nutrients they need, have more energy and get better grades. Breakfast skippers do not make up for the missed opportunity the morning meal provides. Also, a morning snack is important.  Research shows that if kids have a snack midway through their day they have better mental acuity and perform better on standardized tests.

What you eat for breakfast matters. Cereal (particularly whole-grain types) with milk and fruit make a quick meal that offers an array of nutrients.

Cereal can be good for the waistline, too. A recent Journal of the American Dietetic Association study that followed more than 2,300 girls from ages 9 and 10 found that girls who continued to eat cereal on a regular basis for 10 years were leaner than girls who did not eat it. Eating cereal was linked to increased intake of fiber, calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin C, and zinc, and decreased consumption of cholesterol and fat.

Other Than Cereal

There’s no need to limit breakfast foods to traditional choices such as cold cereal, however. The following healthy, kid-friendly breakfasts will beckon kids to the table (many are portable feasts to eat on the way to school or during morning snack time):

  • Half a whole grain bagel, spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins; milk
  • Leftover chicken in a pita and 100% orange juice
  • 8 ounces low-fat fruited yogurt, whole-grain toast, and 100% juice
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie and whole-grain toast
  • Scrambled egg stuffed into half a whole-grain pita pocket and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and salsa or ketchup with 100% juice
  • Waffle sandwich: two whole-grain, toasted waffles spread with almond, peanut, or soy nut butter with milk.
  • If you don’t have time to prepare something, grab and go breakfast such as granola bars, cereal in a baggie, and even dry crackers are better than no breakfast.

Without breakfast, kids will have more fatigue, will not have mental sharpness needed for school activities, and will have altered mood.  Start their day outright and do not let them take a short cut and cut out the most important meal of the day.

Welcome to a new school year. I am excited to be providing nursing care to your child during this school year. The school clinic is equipped to provide first aid for school-related illnesses and injuries. In addition, I will provide treatments and medications, as ordered, by your child’s physician. Please see the guidelines below.

Medications: The Archdiocese of Houston/Galveston regulates that any student required to take prescription or over-the-counter medication in school must have an order from a physician or dentist and written permission from the parent/guardian on the appropriate Archdiocese form available in the clinic as well as on the school website. In addition, those students with emergency conditions such as asthma, allergy, or diabetes need to have an emergency condition form for their condition on file. These forms can be found in the clinic. You can also download them here:

All medications must be brought to the clinic by the parent/guardian and must be in the original prescription bottle or in an unopened sealed container if it is an over-the-counter medication. Any parent may come to the clinic to administer medication to their child during the school day as necessary.

Medications prescribed for administration in school, and stored in the clinic are not available to students after regular school hours. If your child may require emergency medications, such as an inhaler or EpiPen, it is important that you notify the coach as well as the nurse so a plan of care can be developed to ensure the safest possible environment for your child.

Health Screenings: During the school year students in Kinder, 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th grades will receive height, weight, skin vision, and hearing screens. In addition, all newly enrolled students may also receive these screenings. Students in the 6th grade will receive scoliosis screening. Information concerning this screening will come home with the affected age group. You will only be notified of abnormal results. You must provide a written request at the beginning of the school year if you wish that your student not participate in these mandated screenings.

Communication: An updated immunization is required of all students. If your student receives vaccinations throughout the school year please turn in the updated record to the clinic. All incoming 7th graders and Kindergarteners have required immunizations due at the beginning of the school year. Please notify me of any health conditions, illness or injuries that could affect your student during the school year. It is important that I have your current phone number and contact information in the clinic.

Sports Physicals: Sports physicals are needed for any student wishing to participate in an extracurricular activity. These must be completed by both the parent and the physician. Physicals must be on file in the clinic prior to the first day of practice so make plans to get it prior to try-outs.

Once again I look forward to working with you and your child and hope everyone has a happy and healthy school year.