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Is my child too sick for school? How to know

It’s not too hard to imagine that after dinner one night, your child just looks under the weather. You take her temperature and you see that it’s around 101 degrees. You have her drink some warm water with lemon and send her to bed early to get some sleep. When she wakes up in the morning, she’s still got a mild fever, 99.5, but she is acting normally – eating breakfast, doing her normal morning routine.

You suspect she’s fine but you’re still not sure if you are putting others at risk. Sometimes it’s easy to know whether to keep your child at home and take her to an urgent care center, but sometimes it’s not so cut-and-dried. Here’s a few tips to help you decide.

Fever

Send her:

If your child is over 4 months old, has a temperature of less than 101, isn’t having problems drinking fluids and says she feels pretty good, you should send her to preschool or school.

Don’t send her:

If your baby is younger than 4 months old and has any fever at all (above 98.6 degrees), bring her to our urgent care center Spring Hill to have her checked. For such young children, any fever indicates an infection; not only will she be considered contagious, she will won’t feel good participating in that day’s activities. Keep her home until she is fever-free for at least 24 hours.

Vomiting

Send her:

One trip to the bathroom is surprisingly not much to worry about for kids. It usually indicates either a bad reaction to something they ate or choking on something – not that they are sick with the flu or other infection.

Don’t send her:

If there have been two trips to the bathroom to vomit within 24 hours, keep her home. You shouldn’t feel the need to bring her to the urgent care center right away.  If she shows any signs of dehydration (including peeing less than usual, not producing tears when crying or isn’t producing spit), then start by trying to give her small sips of water or other liquid frequently. If it continuously causes vomiting, or if the vomiting hasn’t subsided after a couple of days, visit a doctor.

Diarrhea

Send her:

If the stools are only a little loose and she’s acting normally, you can feel safe sending her to school.

Don’t send her:

If she has diarrhea more than 3 times a day or they are so water that the diaper will overflow, keep them home. This is usually the sign of a contagious infection. Keep an eye out for dehydration and visit an urgent care center Spring Hill if you notice blood or mucus in the stool.

Sore throat

Send her:

This is one of the trickiest to judge. You don’t want your child to be so distracted by an aching throat that they can’t focus at school, but usually sore throats are just the effect of post-nasal drip. Send her if there’s no fever.

Don’t send her:

Sore throat plus fever is a different story. If your child has additional symptoms like swollen glands, a fever, a headache or stomachache, don’t let her go to school; bring her to our urgent care center. These symptoms are often associated with strep throat, which requires antibiotics before a return to school.

Stomachache

Send her:

Again, if this is the only symptom and it’s not accompanied by vomiting, your child should be OK at school.

Don’t send her:

Stomachache plus is cause for concern, i.e. stomachache plus vomiting, diarrhea, or fever as well as lethargy. This can signal gastroenteritis, although sharp pain can also be a sign of constipation. If you suspect that your child has gastroenteritis, make sure she drinks water – but hold off on visiting the doctor until after a few days. If you suspect constipation, stop in and we can check her out.

Colds

Send her:

Runny noses are minimal cause for concern, and a minor cough shouldn’t send you into fits of worry. If that’s all your child has, send her to school.

Don’t send her:

A hacking cough or a phlegmy one are both reasons to keep your child home from school. Wheezing, fever and lethargy are also causes for concern. If the cold persists more than 3 days and over-the-counter treatments aren’t helping, stop into our urgent care center Spring Hill to see if it’s something more serious. We don’t prescribe antibiotics for colds, but we do want to make sure your child’s cold hasn’t morphed into pneumonia or bronchitis.

You really don’t know?

If you really aren’t sure about the severity of your child’s symptoms, we’re here for you. Call us or pop in before you make the decision. We are here to help.

 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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Antibiotics – when to take them and when to avoid them

walk-in clinic Spring Hill

You wake up and you know it instantly – a tickle in your throat, a surprisingly difficult time breathing, maybe a headache – you’re sick. You weigh the options of going to work or calling in sick, try to decide whether to see a doctor. You give it a day, do your normal thing, and you just feel worse. After calling your boss to let her know you won’t be in tomorrow, you head to your Spring Hill walk-in clinic to get some antibio — wait, what? Antibiotics? But your symptoms sound like a bad cold! Should you really be getting antibiotics?

 

Maybe not. The doctors at our walk-in clinic in Spring Hill say that there are more and more people asking for antibiotics to treat head colds and other viral infections. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Here’s all you need to know about antibiotics.

 

What antibiotics are

Antibiotics are a class of drugs that act against bacteria and are used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections – think pneumonia (sometimes), strep throat, and a number of sexually transmitted infections. Antibiotics either inhibit the growth of these “bad” bacteria or kill them outright, which enables you to feel better.

 

What antibiotics aren’t

Antibiotics are not an effective class of drugs against viral infections or fungal infections. That means if you have the flu, Lyme disease, or hepatitis, antibiotics are not going to help you feel better. Viral infections are best avoided by getting vaccinated, which we offer as part of our services – check out flu shot Spring Hill, but serious viruses, like Hepatitis B and HIV can be treated with antiviral medications.

 

Fungal infections like yeast infections or athlete’s foot also cannot be treated by antibiotics; for these you need antifungal medications, which inhibit the growth of the fungus and restore balance.

 

Antibiotic resistance

The biggest concern about the overuse or misuse of antibiotics – i.e. when they are prescribed to treat viral or fungal infections or when they aren’t used as prescribed – is that they become less effective against the illnesses they’re meant to treat. When antibiotics are used improperly – and this also includes not taking the proper dosage or not finishing a course prescribed by your doctor, the bacteria which they fight against adapt and become stronger. Then, the antibiotic doesn’t work anymore.

 

A famous example is strep throat. While this illness is awful in its basic form, it has evolved to an even more dangerous version called MRSA – or “methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.” MRSA doesn’t respond to traditional antibiotics for strep and can be fatal. It also happens to be quite contagious, which is why you will hear reports of outbreaks in hospitals and communities.

 

What you can do

What you can do is simple: Don’t ask for antibiotics if you have a viral infection. You may feel crummy as the virus runs its course, but an antibiotic wouldn’t help you feel better, anyway. If you do have an bacterial infection, take your medicine properly: in the dosage recommended and for the full 7-10 days as prescribed. If you don’t, imagine that little evil bacteria are still floating around your body, figuring out ways to get around the roadblocks you’ve put up against their existence.

 

Secondly, consider eating less meat. The meat industry is the No. 1 user of antibiotics in a preventive manner. They are fed to livestock, poultry and even fish to help them grow faster in relatively unsanitary conditions. We know that it’s hard to give up meat altogether, but less meat intake will reduce your exposure to unnecessary antibiotics.

Have more questions about antibiotics or want to get a flu shot in Spring Hill? The staff at our Spring Hill walk-in clinic are happy to answer any questions you have about your health. When you come in with symptoms, we don’t automatically prescribe antibiotics; we diagnose the root of the problem first. We are open 7 days a week for your convenience.

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