Is Your Child Too Sick for School?
Picture this: last night your child was running a slight fever. You took her temperature and it read 101.4 degrees. She went to bed early and woke up the next day feeling much better. She scarfed down her eggs, got on her school clothes and even chased the dog around the backyard. You took her temperature again it read 98.3 degrees. You’re a bit worried.
Many parents get flustered and impulsive sending their child into a DOCS urgent care facility when it turns out they only have a mild cold and can be treated with a good rest.
Should you keep her home from school just in case, or send her on her way?
Sometimes, making this decision is a no-brainer. The severity of her symptoms speak for themselves. Other times, you have to make a judgement call. Here is a list designed to help you make that decision, when the time comes.
Good To Go:
If your child is over 4 months old, has a temperature of 100.4, is receptive to drinking fluids and doesn’t appear to be acting distressed, you may be good to go.
If your baby is 4 months old or younger, and shows even the slightest indication of fever (anything above 98.6 degrees), it is a good idea to bring them to the doctor. A child with a fever is not only considered contagious, but also will not be able to focus or participate in any kind of class or activity. Keep your child home until he or she has been fever-free for 24 hours.
Lastly, it is crucial to keep a first aid kit on you at all times. Travel companion kits usually contain this, and there are a large variety of commercially available first aid travel kits which are designed to be kept discretely in your vehicle, or in your carry-on luggage.
Good to go:
If your child has only heaved once in 24 hours, he or she is probably good to go. It’s likely that she’s choked on something or had a bad reaction to something she ate. It’s not very likely that she has an infection, nor is she dehydrated. Kids will sometimes vomit if mucus left over from a cold has drained into their stomach and this is making them sick.
If your child has vomited two or more times in 24 hours, she’s benched. Watch for signs of dehydration as well: She’s peeing less than usual and her urine is dark yellow; she doesn’t produce tears when she cries; or there are no bubbles between her lips and her gums.
To ward off dehydration, offer small amounts of fluid frequently, increasing the amount as tolerated. One more thing: Don’t automatically send your child back once the vomiting stops. If she’s not markedly better after a few days, call the doctor.
Good to Go:
Your child’s stools are only slightly loose and she’s acting normally. Some kids develop “toddler’s diarrhea,” triggered by a juice OD; as long as the poop isn’t excessive, the child has the all-clear.
Kids who have the runs more than three times a day and/or have poop so watery it leaks out of the diaper need to stay put. They likely have an infection that can spread. If you see blood or mucus in the stool, call the doctor; she may want to do a culture. As with vomiting, watch for signs of dehydration and follow the same prevention advice.
Good to Go:
A sore throat accompanied by a runny nose is often just due to simple irritation from the draining mucus; send him off as long as he’s fever-free.
If the achy throat is accompanied by swollen glands, a fever, headache or stomach ache, bring him to the doctor for a strep test, especially if he’s 3 or older (the bacterial infection is unusual in younger kids). Children with strep should be on antibiotics for at least a full day before mixing in with the class.
Good to Go:
If this is your child’s only symptom and she’s active, send her off. It could signal constipation or even a case of nerves (in which case, a hug will go far).
Any stomach ache associated with vomiting, diarrhea, fever or no interest in play warrants a trip to the M.D. Sharp stomach pain and a rigid belly can be signs of severe constipation, appendicitis, or a bowel obstruction.
Good to Go:
If your child is fever-free and isn’t hacking up a storm, he’s a go. After all, if children with snotty noses were excluded, schools would be empty!
Junior is staying home if he has a persistent, phlegmy cough and seems cranky or lethargic. He’s also couch-bound if his cold symptoms are accompanied by a fever or wheezing.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Tell?
It’s always nerve racking deciding whether to keep your child at home or not. If you ever forget how to determine if your child should stay home or not, calling us at DOCS Urgent Care and asking a trained professional is sometimes the best course of action.
The scariest times are when you find out your child was actually too ill and the school tells them to go home. It means you have to get out of work early to bring them home. This tends to put a lot of stress on parents and the child and is why you should be aware and informed when you think they may be sick.
Knowing all of these signs to these symptoms are a good way to steer clear from serious illnesses. If they’ve had symptoms for over 24 hours or severe occurrences, more than we mentioned earlier, you should send your child to a DOCS Urgent Care facility to get them diagnosed quickly.