There's More Out There Than H1N1
Lifetime Health Pediatrician Advises When to Keep a Child Home from School
“The H1N1 virus isn't the only illness that we physicians would like to see people avoid spreading," says Ruvim Falkovich, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician with Lifetime Health Medical Group. "While it's certainly one concern this year, it isn't the only illness that causes people to feel miserable, lose time at school and work, and potentially suffer complications."
While it's important to know and follow both the Center for Disease Control'srecommendations and your school district's policy for when to keep children home during the H1N1 and traditional flu season, Falkovich notes there are other illnesses for which a child should stay home and/or be checked by a physician and it's important these illnesses not be overlooked during this time when the flu is getting so much attention.
He notes the following signs that may indicate a parent should keep a child home, and some that also require a call to the pediatrician:
- Cold symptoms: Colds spread easily and it's best to keep a child home to avoid
transmission, "but with childcare issues, many parents have limited ability to stay
home with their sick children," notes Falkovich. "If a child has cold symptoms but is
feeling well and does not have a fever, he or she can go to school."
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea: Stay home to avoid
spreading the illness and because it will not be possible for the child to maintain
proper hydration to compensate for these symptoms throughout the day at school.
- Conjunctivitis–liquid discharges from the eye: These are usually caused by
Bacteria so the child should see the eye doctor before returning to school, unless the
discharge is clear and accompanied by cold symptoms.
- Rashes: There are a variety of causes of rashes so if a child has a rash that does
not look like insect bites, especially if it is accompanied by fever, he or she should be
seen by a doctor before returning to school.
- Sore throat, without a fever: If a sore throat is not accompanied by fever and
there are cold symptoms present, it is probably viral and the child can attend school if he
or she feels well enough.
- Sore throat and fever: Especially if there are no cold symptoms, this can
indicate strep throat and it's important to have this tested by his or her pediatrician. "We often recommend a parent wait and bring the child in for testing on the second day of symptoms since the test for Strep is more accurate on the second or later day," says Falkovich. "Parents may want to ask their child's pediatrician if he or she wants to wait a day for the appointment, but they should keep the child home on the first day regardless."
- Headaches: These are common among young people and are often benign and
respond well to painkillers. However, they are also a symptom of acute problems. If a
headache is accompanied by sore throat or fever or vomiting, a pediatrician should
be called right away and the child should not attend school. Parents should also
check with their child's doctor if the headaches are recurring, with or without other
"Parents often have good intuition as to when something just isn't right with their child," adds Falkovich. "If they ever think a seemingly isolated symptom is something unusual, they should call the pediatrician's office for advice."
Lifetime Health Medical Group offers pediatric care at four health centers throughout the
Rochester area, including the Wilson Health Center at 800 Carter St., where Falkovich
practices. Same-day urgent care appointments are also available at three locations by
calling 585-338-1200. For more information, visit www.lifetimehealth.org.