What are the symptoms for which you will not send your child to school?
A runny nose, sneezing or coughing can cause alarm in families with small children these days.
After many children followed years of social distancing as a preventive measure against COVID-19, healthcare systems are overwhelmed with cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause a runny nose, decreased appetite, cough, sneezing, fever and difficulty breathing.
Viral infections have always been common. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost all children are infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) before the age of two. dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the department of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said immunity developed after infections weakened over time, which can lead to people having more infections during their lifetime.
dr. Liana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, said the challenge facing public health this year is that many children are left with houses because it is a preventive measure against “Covid-19.” They are also isolated from respiratory syncytial virus infection, which means that more of them will get sick from the first infection, and therefore the most dangerous at this moment.
Schaffner, MD, also medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said that RSV infections are often mild but can be a concern for young children, those with underlying health conditions and the elderly.
Wynn added that this fact does not mean it is time to panic. She explained that infection with respiratory syncytial virus and other viral and bacterial infections are part of children growing up and developing their immune system.
Here are the experts who tell you how to assess a child’s condition and not send him to school, and when he should visit a pediatrician.
Is it a cold, flu, covid or respiratory syncytial virus?
Between a cold, flu, sore throat or respiratory syncytial virus, many infections are expected this winter, Schaffner said, and they could look quite similar in terms of symptoms. He added that even smart doctors can have difficulty distinguishing when a patient comes to the clinic.
However, pediatricians are experienced and well-equipped to treat upper respiratory infections, even if it’s not possible to tell exactly which virus or bacteria is causing them, Wen says.
She said that whatever virus or bacteria is causing a cold, headache or sore throat in your home, your child’s age, symptoms and health will likely affect the approach to treatment.
Should you keep your child at home?
Ideally, public health workers would like this, because if no child with symptoms is sent to school or kindergarten, they will not be able to spread the infection. But, he added, that advice is not the most practical, especially for parents who have no one to help them or caregivers who have to work.
He added that tests at home can show whether a child has “Covid-19”. But for other viruses, like the common cold, there may not be a good way to tell what it is.
Wynn said some of the symptoms that could really indicate it’s time to keep your child out of school or daycare include a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty eating, lack of sleep or trouble breathing.
When do you send them back to school?
Schools may have different policies, and it’s important to check with the written information or the school principal or nurse, Wen says.
“Generally, schools will ask that a child doesn’t have a high fever if they’re not using fever-reducing medication,” she added before returning to the classroom.
When is medical help needed?
Schaffner said families often do well to bring their children to the pediatrician when they seem tired. However, it is important to remind families that doctors prefer to see children who are not feeling well sooner.
If they seem lethargic, stop eating or have trouble breathing, Schaffner said, parents and caregivers also have every reason to take their children to a pediatrician and seek medical attention, especially if symptoms worsen.
He emphasized: “This is not something that cannot be hesitated.”
Wynne added that for younger babies and children, it may be time to go to the emergency room if they are taking in fluids or have dry diapers, enlarged nostrils, trouble breathing and chest tightness when they should be expanding.
Wen said families should seek emergency care for school-age children who have trouble breathing and speaking complete sentences. Fortunately, most won’t need emergency treatment, and if they do, they’ll usually go home and feel better within two days, Schaffner says.