There is not much that is as unsettling and as heart wrenching as discovering that your child is unwell. Moms work themselves into a state of panic, not knowing if their child is sick enough to setup an appointment with the doctor or if their child is too ill to attend school or crÃ¨che. Working mothers frequently find themselves in a catch-22 situation where they want to be home nursing and caring for their sick child, but they are also juggling endless work demands. The uncertainty to stay at home is often made worse by the fact that after the child has woken up complaining of a tummy ache or a headache – is by 10am later running around the house the picture of health.
It is not an unusual phenomenon for kids to wake up in the morning feeling under-the-weather and within a few hours make a seemingly miraculous recovery. However, after a few weeks of false alarms moms are quick to catch onto the pretenders’ routine and ends up packing the child off to school or crÃ¨che. However, although kids are known to fake illness, there are some symptoms that even the most talented of kids won’t be able to pull off and if a child has a fever, it is definite sign that they are not faking!
When ill is really ill
A child who has a high fever, is irritable, drowsy and lethargic, crying persistently and has trouble breathing – definite indicators that the child is unwell and the chances of the miraculous 10am full recovery are slim. If the child presents with these types of symptoms, it is without a doubt a good idea to call the doctor or pay a visit to the local hospital’s emergency room. These signs are an indication of an upper respiratory illness such as bronchitis or flu. Once the doctor has prescribed the necessary medications, parents are urged to keep the child at home, until their symptoms improve and the child feels well enough to return to crÃ¨che. Thankfully the symptoms pass quickly and within a few days the patient feels much better.
If a child is suffering with diarrhoea, the child may not appear to be unwell but they should not be sent to crÃ¨che and need to remain at home until the diarrhoea has stopped. Young babies and toddlers with diarrhoea must be monitored throughout the day and lost fluids replaced (by using prepared solutions to replace the body’s electrolytes). If the runny tummy persists, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If the child has diarrhoea and is also vomiting, it is important for the child to see a doctor immediately. The risk of the child becoming dehydrated is high and the lost fluids must be replaced.
A child who passes bloody stools or passes stools that contain mucus should be taken to a doctor without delay. The unusual stools may be an indication of a viral or bacterial infection.
A rash – most crÃ¨ches or nursery schools will be very weary to accept a child who is covered with a rash. However, if the rash is as a result of an allergic reaction and is not contagious, and the child feels well enough to go to school, there is no reason to keep the child at home. If the rash is caused by an infection and is accompanied by a fever and irritability, the chances are that the rash is contagious and is quite possibly a childhood illness, like chickenpox. With chickenpox, the child is no longer considered contagious once the sores have dried up and crusted over.
Pink-eye or bacterial conjunctivitis is a good enough reason to keep the child at home. The infection is thankfully not contagious for long and usually after a period of 24 hours from taking antibiotics, the infection is no longer contagious. Kids who suffer with red, watery or sore eyes because of an allergy are safe to go to crÃ¨che however, it is important to find the root cause of the allergy, as watery and sore eye are not pleasant and can make the child feel irritable and generally unwell.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection and is contagious. The condition is effectively treated with antibiotics and within 24-hours; a child is able to return to school.
When a child contracts head lice, they are not ill but a crÃ¨che or school will usually not be too eager to accept the child, as the lice are easily transmitted from head to head. To stop the spread of lice, it’s important to make sure that all lice and nits are removed and the scalp is thoroughly checked before allowing a child to return to school. This may become a tedious task and when a menacing louse is spotted, parents need to notify the crÃ¨che or school so that they can take the necessary action to prevent the spread.
There will come a time when a child will play sick just for the chance to stay at home and receive mom and dad’s undivided attention. Before putting the child’s behaviour down to being mischievous and cunning, parents are urged to find out if there is an underlying problem as to why their child does not want to go to crÃ¨che. It could be something as simple as a new teacher starting or a friend who has left.
If there have been changes at home, like the family has moved into a new home or if a new baby has arrived, this may also cause the child to act up and seek attention and by faking an illness knowing that they’ll receive a little more TLC.
Should the child complain about a specific ailment continually (like a sore throat, or a sore tummy), it may be worthwhile to arrange a check-up with the doctor. This will give moms the peace of mind that all is well.