Kids get sick, just like the rest of us, but how can you tell if your child is genuinely ill – or just faking it so they can skip school and lie in bed watching Netflix all day long?
Coughs, colds, fevers, and a zillion other childhood illnesses afflict even the healthiest families at one time or another. Fortunately, the older your child gets, the better his immune system is at fighting the bugs. Babies are very vulnerable to germs, but older children are exposed to all manner of viruses once they start school. Viral infections are commonplace amongst kids, but some children are not averse to exaggerating their symptoms to secure sympathy and a day off from school. The hard part is knowing when to call an urgent care San Francisco doctor or tell them to quit pretending.
Sick kids don’t want to eat snacks or watch TV. Really sick kids stay in bed and sleep. If your child starts asking for food within five minutes of you agreeing to let them stay home from school, you’ve probably been suckered.
When children are genuinely sick, they have no energy. They may lie on the sofa looking miserable and even if you offer to put their favorite DVD on, they don’t react. Kids who are faking illness are more than happy to watch DVDs, but after a couple of hours, they are bored, restless, and looking for more exciting things to do.
Sick children will display a lack of energy, loss of appetite, and they might have a fever. Children who are lethargic, abnormally sleepy, or uninterested in anything or anyone are probably sick. Often the cause is a viral infection, with vomiting and diarrhea thrown in for free, so take their temperature and if it’s above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they are clearly not well. If so, give them some infant paracetamol to bring the temperature down and keep them comfortable.
In most cases, kids get better without needing anything other than rest and some over the counter medication. However, if your child has a high fever, can’t or won’t drink, or has developed a rash anywhere on his body, you should seek medical advice urgently. Some illnesses, in particular meningitis, develop very quickly and can be lethal if a child doesn’t receive prompt medical attention. For serious illnesses, take your child to their primary care physician or to the hospital.
Some kids will do anything to get out of going to school, usually because they have forgotten to complete an assignment. The best course of action if you know your child is exaggerating his symptoms is to stand firm and send them to school. Explain that the school nurse will send him home if he’s really sick.
All children will try it on from time to time, but you should be able to tell whether your child is really sick based on how he is acting.
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By Mike Valverde