Last October, when school systems in Solon, Ohio, and Parkside, Texas, closed because of overhyped Ebola fears, we worried that the "cry wolf" effect might interfere with real reasons to keep kids home from school. You know, sometimes it's smart to keep them home to avoid infecting schoolmates and teachers with highly contagious but not life-threatening diseases that make the rounds again and again. Keep your kids home if they have:
PINKEYE. Also called conjunctivitis, this super-contagious eye infection causes a sticky discharge and red, swollen eye(s).
Treatment: If it's bacterial, use antibiotic eyedrops. Keep kids home until redness and irritation is gone.
STOMACH PROBLEMS. If your child is vomiting, has diarrhea and/or a fever, choose bedrest.
Treatment: Fluids, children's acetaminophen and possibly a probiotic. If symptoms continue for 24 hours, see your doctor. Keep kids home for 24 hours after symptoms disappear.
COUGHING. A steady or hacking cough - that's stay-at-home territory.
Treatment: Steamy baths, warm liquids and see your doc. No cough syrups for kids younger than 4; no adult cough medicine for children older than 4. Send kids back when the doc says it's OK.
SORE THROAT. Seventy percent of the time it's viral, not bacterial strep, so it's all about soothing and waiting.
Treatment: If you suspect strep - it may cause headache, stomachache, fever, rash on the throat - get a swab test at your local drugstore, then see your doc for confirmation, antibiotics and a probiotic. Kids can go back to school after 24 hours if they feel up to it.
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