Know When Your Child Needs a Sick Day

As a parent, you probably know when your child is coming down with something. Maybe he’s not eating his breakfast. Maybe she just doesn’t seem her usual boisterous self. Your gut tells you your child is getting sick. But how do you know how sick is too sick for school or day care?

“The first step is to check their temperature,” says Little Company of Mary family medicine physician Joyce Chen, M.D. “For anything above 100.4, keep children home. They’re probably fighting off an infection and need rest and lots of fluids.”

Dr. Chen also advises using a children’s pain reliever/fever reducer, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help kids feel more comfortable. “But be sure to give the correct dosage based on weight — not age,” Dr. Chen says. “I often see parents underdose, which won’t help the child feel any better.”

You should also keep your child home for:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Signs of pinkeye, chickenpox or other contagious infection
  • Any illness that will prevent your child from participating in normal activities or will require more care than school or day care can provide

Coughing fits and low fevers are likely signs of the common cold. If children are comfortable, they can probably go to school. Just remind them to practice good hygiene—washing hands, coughing into the elbow — to prevent spreading illness.

Sometimes, though, it’s not as easy to determine what’s wrong. “Anxiety can play a role, too,” Dr. Chen says. “Maybe they’re fighting with a friend and don’t want to go to school, there’s a test they’re not prepared for or there’s bullying going on. Try to get children to verbalize what’s bothering them. At the end of the day, trust your instincts. You know your child best.”

And if your child is sick, and you just aren’t able to stay home, take advantage of The Care Depot. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the Care Depot, pediatric nurses will look after your child all day. Call 708-229-5393 to book your child’s spot today.

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