Column - How do we know if it's flu?An orange sheet of paper caught my eye as I perused the back-to-school information that came home from school last week. Essentially, it said if your child has a fever and either a sore throat or cough, you should keep them home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without medicine.
By: By Greta Petrich, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
An orange sheet of paper caught my eye as I perused the back-to-school information that came home from school last week.
Essentially, it said if your child has a fever and either a sore throat or cough, you should keep them home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without medicine.
The next instruction left me in a panic:
For many children this will be five to seven days.
As I sit here at my desk I can hear two different coughs over the cubicle walls. Someone else just blew his or her nose. I may possibly have a little fever, but can’t tell because my hands are cold.
It made me wonder what happens to all the working parents?
In our office of about 30 people, half have children younger than age 18 – a total of 23 kids. So if each of those children develops flu-like symptoms this season that could mean a minimum of 138 days a parent from our office could need to miss work.
What if those illnesses strike at the same time?
My concerns led me to the Centers for Disease Control, which, I’ll warn you, will probably put you into a full-fledged panic.
It described influenza-like symptoms as fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea.
I’m nauseous just thinking about it.
As a mother of three, I’ve quickly learned that any illness traveling through our home strikes each child individually, resulting in the possibility of a three-week hiatus from work. If I get sick, that’s another week.
Sure I can work from home, but we all know working takes a back burner when you’ve got a sick child to take care of. And I’m one of the fortunate ones. Most jobs simply can’t be done from the home.
While I’m all about stomping out this nasty bug, I can’t comprehend how we can with parents who can’t miss a week of work because someone “might” be sick.
They don’t want us to send a sick child to school, but I also read somewhere the clinics didn’t necessarily want us to come in if we “suspect” we are infected.
Figuring that out gives me a headache.
Under the heading “How do I know if I have the flu,” the CDC lists fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. In addition, it read it’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
I want to do what’s best for my kids, I want to keep them safe.
My question is, how do we know?
Are we supposed to keep our children out of school for a stuffy nose and cough? Or a headache and sore throat?
All this information is enough to drain a person – or maybe I’m feeling fatigued.
I’m all in favor of doing all we can to keep the nasty H1N1 virus at bay, yet as parents, I feel we’re being squished between fear and reality.
We’re supposed to be proactive about fighting the flu, yet somewhere in our school packets, there’s a reminder discouraging excessive absences.
Are schools truly going to accept continual absences for “flu-like symptoms?”
Of course, being overcautious could simply be overkill, considering people are going to send their children to school because they don’t seem sick.
I’m taking it seriously, maybe too much, maybe not enough. All I know is that after re-reading this column, I’d better just go home and go to bed.