Frequently Asked Questions

When my child has a cold, when should I keep her home from school?
Use your judgment to determine when your child is feeling too sick to go to school, but generally, children with a fever should stay home. Residual symptoms of a cold can last one to two weeks, but once a child is fever-free without the use of a fever-reducing medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) for 24 hours, they may return to school.

Why do colds and the flu increase in the winter?
Cold weather itself does not cause colds, but people are more likely to stay indoors and spread cold germs to one another when it's cold outside. There is emerging evidence that influenza spreads most efficiently at low temperatures and in low humidity, which may be another reason cases of the flu increase so much in the winter.

Is there any truth to the old saying, "Feed a cold; starve a fever?"
No. When you have a cold or the flu, you should be sure to eat healthful foods and drink plenty of fluids, but there is no need to eat more or less than usual.

If my child has a cold, can they still get a flu shot?
Yes, your child can still get vaccinated when they have a cold as long as they are not feeling very sick and do not have a fever.

Can a child die from the croup?
It is very rare for a child to die from croup, though there are a number of conditions that can follow croup, such as pneumonia and middle ear infection.

Are ear infections contagious?
An ear infection itself is not contagious.

Does it really make a difference for children to have a flu shot?
Children who are vaccinated and then get the influenza virus generally have a less severe and shorter duration of illness. This statistic may help stress the importance of children having flu shots: As of October 2018, 185 pediatric deaths had been reported to Center for Disease Control during the 2017-2018 season. Approximately 80 percent of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.

Can a flu vaccination cause the flu?
Flu shots do not cause the illness because they are made of inactivated viruses. If your child catches the flu after being vaccinated, they were exposed to a virus that was not included in the current year's vaccine. Or it may be that they were exposed before receiving the vaccine. It takes up to two weeks after the shot to be fully protected.

Are most coughs pertussis and does everyone with pertussis "whoop?"
Not every cough is "whooping cough," or pertussis. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Not everyone with pertussis will cough and many who cough will not "whoop."

What is walking pneumonia?
"Walking pneumonia" simply refers to a mild case of pneumonia, where a person is not seriously ill and does not require bed rest or hospitalization.

My baby has RSV and has nearly lost his appetite. Will diluting formula help him drink more?
When babies have RSV, they typically eat about 40-50% of their normal feeding amount because their noses are congested. Thinning the formula with water is not recommended as it will not help your baby drink more and can be dangerous. The best remedy for significant nasal congestion is suctioning your baby's nose before feedings.

Can you treat oral thrush at home?
Home remedies for oral thrush may help relieve symptoms, but they won't cure the yeast infection. Home remedies are meant to support -- not replace -- anti-fungal medications in the treatment of oral thrush. You may still need an anti-fungal to get rid of the Candida fungus entirely.

Does my child need an antibiotic for tonsillitis?
Usually not. Most throat and tonsil infections are caused by viruses, although some are caused by bacteria. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but do not kill viruses. If tonsillitis is caused by a bacteria, such as group A strep, antibiotics are prescribed to prevent future complications of the infection and to decrease transmission to others.

Is shingles the same disease as chickenpox?
Shingles looks similar to chickenpox and is caused by the same virus. But it usually appears on only one part of the body, where it can be very painful. When people are first infected with the varicella-zoster virus, usually as children, they get chickenpox. Years or decades later, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles.

Can kids get fifth disease more than once?
Usually, kids who've been infected with the virus that causes fifth disease (parvovirus B19) become immune to it and won't become infected again.

My daughter has hand-foot-and-mouth disease. When can she go back to school?
Children can return to school when they are feeling well, are free of fever, and all their blisters have dried up, which can take about seven days.

Can my child get head lice from our dog?
No. Pets play no part in spreading head lice.

Can head lice spread by sharing sports helmets?
It's very unlikely. Head lice feet are specially adapted for holding onto human hair. Head lice would have difficulty attaching to smooth or slippery surfaces like plastic, metal, and other similar materials.

What happens if impetigo is untreated?
The infection usually clears up on its own within a few weeks. Antibiotic creams are often used to make the symptoms go away faster.

When is a child with measles contagious?
Kids are contagious four days before they first get the measles rash, and for four days after the rash starts. You can get it if you touch an infected surface and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

My child has roseola. When is it safe for him to return to school?
Roseola is no longer contagious when the rash is gone. Then it is safe for the child to return to school or daycare.

What's the difference between scabies and bedbugs?
Here are two simple ways to tell the difference: Bedbugs can be seen with the naked eye while scabies can be seen only with a microscope. Also, bedbugs remain outside the skin while scabies burrow under the skin.

What are the long-term effects of scarlet fever?
When scarlet fever is appropriately diagnosed and treated there are few, if any, long-term effects. But if complications develop for any reason, kidney damage, hepatitis, vasculitis, septicemia, congestive heart failure, and even death may occur.

Should children stay home from school if they have pinkeye?
Yes. Children should not go to daycare or school until pinkeye has improved. If the pinkeye is caused by bacteria, the person can usually return to daycare or school after the infection has been treated for 24 hours with an antibiotic and symptoms are improving.

What does a UTI feel like?
A UTI may cause a burning feeling during urination, or a frequent or intense need to urinate, even though little urine is actually discharged. UTIs may cause pain or pressure in the lower back or lower abdomen.

Is it true that children won't sleep through the night before age 1 or 2?
No. Healthy, full-term babies who are six months or older and getting plenty of calories during the day can usually sleep 11+ hours at night.

Will feeding my baby solids help her stay asleep longer?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you should wait until six months to start solid foods. Babies should be able to get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or formula until then.

I've heard that short-haired animals are safe for people with pet allergies. Is this true?
No. People with allergies to animals are allergic to the dander (dead skin cells, saliva, and urine). Pet hair and fur are not allergens but they can collect other allergens, like dust and pollen.

Can you become immune to antihistamines?
Antihistamines are the most common treatment against hay fever. However, because the hay fever symptoms can vary greatly in intensity, people may think that the antihistamines simply aren't working. That's not likely to be true -- use of antihistamines can be effective for a long period of time.

Is a mild food allergy less dangerous than a severe food allergy?
There are no mild or severe food allergies -- only mild or severe reactions. What caused a mild reaction in the past may lead to a severe reaction in the future, and vice versa. Always take precautions to prevent allergic reactions before they happen.

If my child has asthma, should we move to an asthma-friendly environment?
No. For a long time it was recognized that children with asthma had fewer symptoms in warm and dry climates. This was why states like Arizona and Colorado became asthma safe havens. With today's modern medicines, it's believed that asthma can be controlled no matter where you live.

Is diabetes caused by eating sugar?
Type 2 diabetes is not caused specifically by sugar, but by genetics and lifestyle factors. A diet high in calories from any source, including sugar, contributes to weight gain, and weight gain increases risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors, not diet and lifestyle.

What's the best quick fix to my child's weight problem?
There are no quick and easy answers. Obesity is not a problem that can be resolved overnight or even in a few weeks. In fact, some of the most popular quick fixes, from diet pills to herbal teas, may be hazardous to your child's health. Instead, consult your child's provider and use plans and programs that are based on credible, scientific evidence. These offer the best chance for safe and long-term weight-loss success.

Which vaccinations cause autism?
A 1998 study falsely linked the MMR vaccine and autism. The paper was retracted and its author lost his medical license, but the idea stuck. According to the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and other trusted sources, there is no evidence of a link between MMR vaccine and autism. Vaccines are safe. They do not cause autism and they do save lives.