Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Should they stay or should they go?

We continue to battle the germs in this house.  I knew conquering cold and flu season wouldn't be easy, but it's only November, and it has already taken its toll on me.  I think the fact that there are three little kids in this family exponentially increases the number of germs we are exposed to, and hence, the frequency of illness.  It probably also compounds my guilt.

I hate seeing my little ones feeling miserable.  But empathy is not the only emotion I feel when they're sick.  I also feel guilt.  Lots of guilt. 

... Guilt for sending them when they should be staying home. 
... Guilt that I'm taking a 'work-from-home' day when they don't seem that sick. 
... Guilt that I kept the older one home from school 'cuz she's easier to look after, but sent the little one even when she's coughing as much as the older one. 
... Guilt that I should've taken them to the doctor earlier. 
... Guilt that I'm taking them to the doctor unnecessarily and using up valuable healthcare time and money. 
I realise that I should mostly trust my gut instinct when deciding when my kids should be staying home, or when they should be seeing a doctor. But my gut isn't very decisive. 

Some things are obvious, like the daycare 24-hour fever-free policy or not sending a kid who is vomiting and has diarrhea.  But it's the less obvious symptoms that always have me second guessing myself.

So, while at home today with my youngest who has a chest and ear infection, I've done some research on child care health policies, public health websites and other sources of information on the Internet.   And, I've come up with the following guidelines to (at least sort-of) follow when trying to determine whether my children should be going to school or daycare, or whether I need to figure out who and how we can stay at home.  Again.

  They shouldn't be going to school or daycare if:
  1. They've had a fever within the last 24 hours.
  2. They don't seem to feel well enough to participate in the activities there.
  3. They have a persistent, phlegmy cough and are cranky or lethargic or wheezy.
  4. They've vomited more than once within the last 24 hours.
  5. They have had more than three bouts of diarrhea in the last 24 hours.
  6. They have a reportable disease or an infectious illness such as impetigo, conjunctivitis, or strep throat.
It's okay for me to send them to school or daycare if:
  1. They have a cold (i.e. sore throat, runny nose, cough), but no fever, and feel well enough to participate.
  2. They have an ear infection.
  3. They have a stomachache with no other symptoms.

I should take them to a doctor if:
  1. They've had a fever for more than 3 days.
  2. They have a really high fever (e.g. more than 104 degrees).
  3. They have a cough that is getting worse or not improving after a week.
  4. They're vomiting blood or there is blood or mucous in their stool.
  5. They have a stomachache along with vomiting, diarrhea, fever and lethargy.
There.  Now that I've compiled some rules and checklists, I feel better.

Hopefully, the little girl will feel better soon too.

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