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When you should just stay home

By Jade DeGood, jdegood@kwch.com
Published On: Jan 15 2014 05:32:43 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 06:09:04 PM CST
WICHITA, Kan. -

It's sometimes a hard decision, you have a mild fever and you're coughing, but you just can't bring yourself to call in sick. Or you child seems a bit off, but you're not sure what symptoms you're looking for to make the call to keep them home or take them to the doctor.

Eyewitness News spoke with a doctor at Wesley to help parents and employees know when they should just stay home or get checked out.

Cyndi Chapman, the manager of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Wesley says a fever is a good enough sign to stay home.

"Anytime you have a fever you’re contagious so that’s the time you should stay at home," she said.

If your child has a fever, they should be kept home from school and monitored for a day or two. If the fever doesn't subside, they may need to go to the doctor. She said 101 degrees is a good gauge as to what type of fever should be monitored closely, and if your child starts having difficulty breathing or coughing persistently, that's when they need to go to their family care doctor. Those are red flags for the flu.

Another sign you should stay home, is if you have a severe cough.

"Any time you have a productive cough that you see things coming out of your mouth or your sneezing and you see stuff come out of your mouth, you’re spreading germs," said Chapman.

If you have a cough and must go out, make sure to cough into your elbow and wash your hands frequently.

Many times, kids get the blame for spreading such germs. Chapman said the reason is because they are constantly touching adults or other kids and needing help with things that could spread germs.

"We’re constantly doing things with children, whether it’s wiping their nose, or 'Come over here and touch me' or they’re breathing on you, everyone goes to tend to children. You take care of children. The contagious part is you are constantly involved in their care."

That's where healthy habits play a large role. Constantly washing your hands and making sure your kids do too.

"Since we are at the height of the flu season it’s important to know that everybody’s going to be exposed to this," said Chapman. "You would expect your child to have a fever, you’d expect your child to have a cough because they’d been exposed to it. Watching them for 24-48 hours at your home, giving them fluids and treating them like you would a person that is sick, I would do that. Unless you see any significant changes in their breathing. If your gut says they don’t look right and they’re not acting the way they should be, a call should be made immediately."

She also recommends everyone over the age of 1 get their flu shot. She says most kids can either get the shot or the mist, but you should contact your primary care physician to see what's best for your child.

But a warning, getting a flu shot doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get sick. Chapman says the flu shot protects against the common viruses the CDC knows are in the community. Their are some flu viruses that may not match, but she says even if you catch one of those, the vaccine should make symptoms less severe.

"It’s important to know if you get immunized it will lessen the results of the flu or symptoms and hopefully keep people off the respirator and oxygen."

She said Wesley hasn't seen the boom in cases she's heard of in neighboring states, but she believes that means the season is just starting.

"Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, they've been swamped for over a month," she said. "We think this may just be the start of the season, whether that's true or not is really a crap shoot. We have no idea. Whatever happens happens, but we know we are in for more flu."

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