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Kids not feeling well? Here’s how to know if you should send them to school

sickkid-full.jpgYou’re packing lunches while making breakfast, telling your kids to brush their teeth, and all the while juggling getting ready for work yourself. For parents, this familiar balancing act marks the start of most weekday mornings. Until one of your kids says four little words that can throw the schedules of your entire family off kilter: “I don’t feel good.”

Before calling your child’s school to say that he or she will be taking a sick day, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to do a little at-home checkup first. Here are some tips from Dr. Tanya Kadrmas-Iannuzzi of Rowan Medicine Pediatrics  to help you determine when it makes sense to keep your kids home from school if they aren’t feeling well.

sickkid-2-full.jpgPerform a quick check-up

If you think your child may be sick, use a thermometer to check their temperature. Anything above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should be considered a fever.

“Children with fevers should not return to school until they are 24 hours fever free without the intervention of acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” advised Dr. Tanya Kadrmas-Iannuzzi.

Parents should also monitor oral tolerance and activity, taking note of their child’s appetite. Issues with vomiting or diarrhea are further reasons to keep a child out of class, as distress could result from a child frantically looking for a bathroom while at school. A good preliminary question to ask yourself is whether you’d feel confident going into work with the same symptoms.

sickkid-3-full.jpgLook for symptoms of common illnesses

Staying aware of common illnesses that can easily spread through a classroom can help protect your kids and their classmates. The onset of symptoms such as a sore throat and difficulty swallowing, for instance, are warning signs of strep throat.

“Illnesses such as strep throat require that children be treated for 24 hours before returning to school,” said Dr. Kadrmas-Iannuzzi. 

Because the course of treatment for strep throat includes antibiotics, you’ll want to make sure your child has been taking their medication for at least a full day before returning to school so that other children are not exposed to the bacteria. Bacterial pink eye is another common illness that can easily spread if your child hasn’t yet taken antibiotics for a full day before returning to school.

sickkid-4-full.jpgEnsure a productive sick day at home

If you decide to not send your child to school, it’s best to stay at home for the day. With immune systems already compromised, sick kids are at risk of contracting other illnesses by being out at stores, restaurants, or other locations that are full of people. Instead, break out the board games or watch a favorite movie while curled up on the couch. Reading and taking naps as needed are also great sick day activities.

Parents can also aid in their child’s recovery process. “Try to hydrate the patient and provide fluids and nutrition (chicken soup) and comfort and rest for the body to work on healing itself,” said Dr. Kadrmas-Iannuzzi.

Increasing antioxidant and vitamin C intake may also help, along with probiotics. However, be sure to consult your child’s doctor if he or she has any immune system concerns or other limitations that may make these recommendations different than the general public.

sickkid-5-full.jpgKnow when to visit the doctor

If your child’s fever persists more than five days, evaluation or a follow-up appointment is recommended. If you see signs of oral intolerance and possible dehydration, intervention is required, with a possible ER visit to ensure IV fluid intervention. If your child has a rash that looks like it is bleeding under the skin, or that seems to be spreading, consult your pediatrician.

In general, illnesses that are prolonged should be evaluated by medical professionals. If sore throat, cough or other symptoms persist, it’s best to have your child evaluated by her pediatrician. Prolonged or bloody diarrhea is another cause for visiting the doctor.

Of course, consulting with your doctor about any symptoms that your child is exhibiting can only help speed up their healing process and end their discomfort. Rowan Medicine Pediatrics has offices conveniently located in both Sewell and Stratford, New Jersey.

sickkid-6-full.jpgKeep your vaccinations up to date

Prevention is often the best medicine. The CDC recommends that every person above the age of six months receive the influenza vaccination annually at the beginning of flu season. This helps build immunity that can prevent one from getting the flu, along with its attendant aches, chills, fever, and other unpleasant symptoms.

“Due to the success rate of vaccines many parents and persons have become complacent and feel that the disease is not a true threat,” said Dr. Kadrmas-Iannuzzi. “This is false.”

In fact, keeping current on flu shots and other recommended immunizations can potentially be life-saving, as there are still thousands of deaths every year from vaccine preventable diseases. Check in with the CDC website to make sure you’re aware of all of the vaccines that your children should receive. Think of it this way: the proper vaccinations could mean fewer sick days, and more days of your children feeling their best.

If you’re concerned about the health of your child, schedule an appointment with Rowan Medicine Pediatrics