Brandy Blanton, Elementary Schools nurse, provides weekly news and tips for helping children at home.
Children frequently come to the school nurse’s office with a fever. If the child’s temperature is 100 degrees or greater, the child should be dismissed from school. The child should remain at home until he or she has been fever -free for at least 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medications. Parents should treat fever with Tylenol or Ibuprofen as directed by their personal healthcare provider. Medicating the child in this way lowers the temperature but does not treat the underlying cause of the fever, which is most often some type of infection.
In general, temperature readings between 96-99 degrees Fahrenheit are considered normal. Temperatures will fluctuate normally during the day. In response to infections or illness, the brain will reset the body’s temperature above the normal level. Parents should remember that fever is not an illness; instead, it is a symptom of an underlying problem. Kissing or touching a child’s forehead may be helpful, but it is not an accurate temperature measurement. A reliable thermometer should be used to confirm a fever. Usually, a child is said to have a fever if the temperature is greater than 100 degrees.
**To take an oral temperature and get an accurate reading, Wait 30 minutes after your child eats or drinks. There should be no gum or candy in your child’s mouth. Place the tip of the thermometer under the child’s tongue and have the child close his or her lips tightly around it.
**To take an axillary temperature, it is best to remove the child’s shirt to be sure that the thermometer tip is touching the skin and not the clothing. Place the tip of the thermometer under the child’s arm pit. Fold the child’s arm across the chest to hold the thermometer in place.
Usually digital thermometers will “beep” when reading is complete. Be sure to write down the reading, the date, and the time that the measurement was taken. Temperatures should not be taken right after a bath, when heavy clothing is in place or right after coming indoors.
Healthcare providers will often recommend the parent wait to treat the fever, until it reaches a specific range. This should be determined by the child’s personal health care provider based on the child’s symptoms and medical history.
Two important facts to know about fever in children:
Never use Aspirin in children under 19 years of age, unless directed by a physician for a specific health condition.
Untreated high fevers can cause seizures and brain damage in children.
Tips to Survive Cold and Flu Season:
Wash your hands
Many viruses are spread by your hands. You pick up germs on your fingers and then get them in your mouth or eyes. To avoid spreading these germs, wash your hands with soap and water often and be sure to wash them well. This is a key way to help prevent a cold or flu.
Get your Flu shot
You may think of the flu as a minor problem, but it can be a severe problem! The flu can even be dangerous, especially for young children, older adults, and pregnant women. One little shot may save you and your family a lot of misery.
Be prepared for Cold season
Stock your medicine cabinet with any drugs you may use, like pain relievers or decongestants. Also stock up on tissues, soap, and hand sanitizer. Make sure that your thermometer battery still works. Load up on fluids, herbal teas, and simple comfort foods like chicken soup for when you are sick.
Pay attention to symptoms
Cold or Flu? At times it may be hard to distinguish the symptoms between the two viruses.
Colds tend to usually be milder – runny nose or stuffy nose.
The Flu is usually more severe and comes on suddenly probably knocking you off your feet for a few days. Fever, Body aches, and Exhaustion are more common with the flu.
Get the Right Medication
There are lots of cold and flu remedies to choose from at the drugstore. Be smart about the ones you use.
Many experts say you should avoid combination medications that package lots of drugs in one pill – like a decongestant, cough suppressant, and a pain killer. You could wind up getting a drug for symptoms you don’t have. Read labels and choose only the medications that will help with the symptoms that you have.
Skip the Antibiotics
Cold and Flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not help. They work only with bacterial infections.
Ask about Antivirals
No drugs can cure the flu, but some may help you get better faster. Prescription antiviral drugs – Relenza and Tamiflu – can help the symptoms and decrease your recovery time. The Catch: You need to start taking these antivirals 48 hours from your first symptom.
Drink Extra Fluids
Drinking extra fluids when you are sick will help thin mucus, letting your sinuses drain better. Water, broth, and sports drinks are good choices. Hot drinks – like herbal tea- will also warm your airways, helping relieve congestion.
If you are sick children are not drinking enough, offer them Popsicles, or let them drink fluids with a spoon or straw. Try different ways to coax them into drinking more fluids.
If you are sick, Stay Home
It may not be easy to take a sick day. But if you have a cold or flu, you should. If you push yourself when you are sick and work instead of rest, your body may have a harder time fighting off the virus, your cold could last longer. You could also spread the virus to other people.
So when you are sick, stay home, rest, and recover. It is better for you and everyone around you!