Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Students from preschool through college are in full end-of-the-school year mode. Unfortunately, there also seem to be several spring/summer viruses lurking around that are disrupting many students' (and parents') end-of-year plans.

Just as influenza most often hits during the winter months (and over the Christmas and New Year's school holidays), other viruses that cause fever, myalgias (muscle aches), cough, congestion and sore throat are equally bothersome at this time of year. Adenovirus, enteroviruses and parainfluenza virus (to name only a few), can trigger a fairly high fever, sore throat, congestion and eventually a cough.

Most viruses stick around from 7 to 14 days. For the first 2 to 4 days, it's not unusual to see kids running a fever, which only makes them feel worse. Something about running a 103-degree fever while the weather is sliding into the 70s and 80s around the country, just doesn't seem right! Unfortunately, these viruses don't care what we all have happening in our lives, so you may find your child trying to wrap up school activities when they really need to stay home for a few days to recover.

I've seen dozens of sick kids in the last few weeks with a litany of things to "do" before school ends. Parents are bringing their sons and daughters to my office for "the cure" so they can attend an end-of-preschool party, field trip, prom or graduation. I only wish that I had "the cure."

Viruses are bigger and brighter than the best minds, and they can't be beaten back in 12 hours with a magic shot of penicillin (although I must say some walk-in clinics still do this). Despite my best efforts as a physician (and mother), the only thing that really cures a viral illness is "tincture of time," which no one seems to have anymore. I'm not pointing fingers, because I'm guilty of feeling that way myself. I only wish I could help everyone, including my own children, get better in time to attend all of their important end-of-year functions. Viruses always seem to strike at the most inconvenient times.

One mother ha brought her son to see me both in my office and my house in hopes of finding "something" that we can treat. She's thrown out options like "antibiotics, inhalers, vitamins and steroids" in hopes of getting him better fast. Throughout his illness, the boy, like many others, has dragged himself out of bed to attend "special" events, all the while running a fever and coughing. He's contagious and could spread the bug to others.

Viruses spread very easily, especially in the close contact our adolescents all have. I LOL when a parent insists, "My child has not been around anyone who's sick!" But, of course, they have. Children area exposed to viruses in class, during after school activities, while sharing water bottles on the sports field or sandwiches at lunch. Throw in all the year-end parties going on and you have a perfect storm for germs to spread.

Bottom line, if your child has a fever, he/she should stay home. Rest, fluids, fever control and time are really the only cures. Thankfully, I feel certain one of these bright young people will one day find the "cure" for the pesky viral illnesses we all dread. Not only that, but they'll be adored by all parents who want to figure out how to "fix" their children in time for the next end-of-year party or event!

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show.


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Health - Viruses Linger During End of School Year