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My husband is constantly getting colds

March 2009

My husband is constantly getting colds - when he's over one and clear for a couple days, he comes down with another one. And these are not just the sniffles, the cold usually puts him in bed, exhausted and needing a nap, he can barely drag himself through the day. I never get these. The children will sometimes get sick and inevitably pass that to my husband, but he gets sick much more often than they do. The children have had two colds this winter (at the same time as each other), my husband has had about 15 colds. Clearly something is going on with his immune system. His dr. wasn't much help when he checked in with her about it last year, she just said get more rest. This isn't new, he's usually sick more often than me, but the frequency has picked up in the last 5 years or so quite a bit, and this year it's particularly bad. He opens doors with his sleeve, uses hand-sanitizer everywhere, to no avail. Is there something specific about his health or immune system we should have checked with a specialist? Is this type of immune system failure particularly symptomatic of something or other?


You need a Neti Pot! Nasal irrigation with a gentle salt water solution will help keep those nasty bugs away. You can get them at any health food store. Lisa in Oakland
Why doesn't he try acupuncture and herbs to boost his immunity? There are a million great acupuncturists out there that could help him and it sounds like he has a chronic problem that would respond well to Chinese Medicine. Used to get a million colds, too.
Hi there, I totally know what you are experiencing. I had double mastectomy 4 years ago due to breast cancer and since then I don't seem to get back to the normal energy level I used to have. About a year ago, I started consulting with a naturopath regarding my lack of energy and ongoing colds and flus. She has reviewed all my lab tests (which were normal, according to my regular doctor) and has prescribed some herbs and other things that have improved my health about 70%. We are still in the process of finding out what best works for me. The naturopath I consult with specializes in women's health, unfortunatelly she is in Phoenix maybe there is someone else in the Bay area. Occasionaly I see an acupuncturist but I think that most of the results I am getting seems to be from the naturopath's guidance.
I have had the same problem myself, many different times in my life. Usually, it happens when I move to a new environment (new germs, I guess), such as starting college, starting a new job, etc. I imagine it could be the stress related to life changes, but it usually takes me a full year (and SOOOO many colds) to get past it. I have been to the doctor, and his response was the same as yours, and I had the same worries about my immune system. Sorry- that is not much help. One thing my doctor told me that helped calm my fears was that if I DID have an immune system disorder I would not JUST be getting a lot of really bad colds, I would get a lot of ''weird'' infections that did not go away. A friend of mine who had the same problem saw an eastern-style medical professional (herbalist, acupuncture, etc), who recommended a diet avoiding sugar, caffeine & dairy. She felt as though this helped. I have found MANY sources that claim that sugar takes a toll on one's immune system. I have never found any scientific research to that effect, though. Betsy
P.S. I did find that regular exercise helped IMMENSELY. This was really really hard to accomplish, being sick all of the time, but I tried to at least get light exercise even when I was sick. From what I have read, it's ok to exercise unless you have a high fever. Betsy
Don't know if this will help or not. As I got older, once I caught a cold, I stayed sick forever. Plus if I entered a dusty area, I was certain to catch a cold. Turned out I had asthma and allergies, so I was more susceptible, and it took me much longer to recover. Now if I get a cold, I am more careful about asthma/allergies self-care techniques (inhalers, etc.) Also, do you have a dishwasher? A dishwasher that sanitizes dishes will also cut down on viral transmission (I was told this by a public health nurse). Failing that, you could sanitize dishes and glasses after cleaning with a bleach solution. Lola
I have found that stress lowers my immunity and I get sick often when under stress. Maybe your husband should have his cortisol level checked. My turned out to be extremely high and my M.D. told me that I need to meditate everyday. It is too soon to tell if the meditation lowers my stress and cortisol and raises my immunity, but I am hopeful. - novice meditator
I googled ''more likely to get sick'' and ''more susceptible to illness'' and found lots of interesting things:

Sleep: There's a recent study that says ''people who lose just a bit of sleep, or those who have poor quality sleep, are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a cold virus than those who get more shut-eye.''

Men vs. Women: ''Men are more susceptible to viruses, bacteria and fungi than women, Johns Hopkins University researchers say. The study concludes that estrogen accounts for the difference in the ability of males and females to withstand such infections -- a difference that does not exist before puberty.''

Stress: People with a lot of stress are more likely to get sick. At stressful times, the body produces extra cortisol to support a 'fight or flight' response. When cortisol levels remain elevated for long periods of time, it wears down the body's immune system.

Here's a NY Times article called ''Risk Factors for the Common Cold'': http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/common-cold/risk-factors.html


Hi, I totally feel for you because I was this way with sinus issues for a really long time. I couldn't stay well for more than a week without antibiotics. I thought it was something I was doing, or that maybe this just was how life was because I had been sick for so long. It turns out, for me at least, that it was an immune system failure, something called CVID - Common variable immune deficency. My immune system simply doesn't make antibodies any more, hence my inability to stay well. Like your family, no one else was seriously sick except me. I don't wish this on anyone, but if your husband has this kind of a situation, the best thing you can do is get it discovered so that it can be treated. The sooner the better. The first step to getting a proper diagnosis (and the average length of time to proper identification is 13 years because doctors don't know what to look for) is getting your husband a blood test that specifically looks for his IG levels. This doesn't happen on a routine CBC, his doctor has to ask for it specifically. If it turns out that his levels are low (or non existent like mine) then he'll get sent to an immunologist who will hopefully put him on the treatment I'm on - monthly infusions of immunoglobulins. It's really expensive medicine, but it has kept me off of anitbiotics for over a year, my energy has returned and I'm a nicer, better person for it. I wish you and your husband all the luck in the world and hope it is something less drastic than this. But the more you know, the better off you are. I'm not crazy after all
I went through that when my kids were little. I was susceptible because I was always run down: too busy, working long hours, too stressed, not sleeping enough, eating too much sugar, drinking too much caffeine. I can highly recommend an acupuncturist for dealing with this. She is great at handling immune issues. She is also a herbalist. Roberta ''Bobbie'' Lewis, tel. 510/540-8528. Her office is in Berkeley, on Dwight near Martin Luther King.
It sounds like what I want through a few years ago. I got sick with a cold and then couldn't shake it. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but often felt ok in the morning. I finally went to see a doctor about it and he said it sounded like the first cold had made my allergies kick in. After a week or so of taking Flonase, I felt reborn. anon
What is your husband's diet like? I was absolutely the same for the last 3 years - I was at my wits end and had tried acupuncture, energy therapy, hundreds of dollars of supplements...all to no avail. I went to see a naturopath for an entirely unrelated issue and wound up making some significant dietary changes. I hadn't wanted to, but...an awesome side effect was that suddenly, I didn't catch every single cold that went through our house. The 3 big changes - no dairy, no wheat and no sugar. I eliminated them entirely for a month, then reintroduced them in very small quantities. So, I have toast maybe one day a week, but otherwise, eat pasta made from rice, quinoa or corn, not wheat. I use non-wheat flours when I bake, etc. Wheat gluten can often cause low- level irritation to the stomach and intestines, which is where more than 50% of our immune system resides. If it's irritated by gluten, it's not working at its optimum level. Dairy products contain casein, a protein which binds with mucus and makes it thicker. Mucus collects all the germs that enter our nose - normally, we unknowingly swallow most of it with no problems. If the mucus is thicker it's not flowing down as easily, it's sitting there longer, letting the germs multiply, increasing the odds of an illness. And sugar - sugar is the single biggest immune suppressor there is. I read somewhere that the sugar in one soda will reduce your immune function by 50% for 6 - 8 hours. And of course, when you eliminate those simple carbs like bread and pasta, you replace them with healthier things like fresh fruits and veggies - which also enhance your immune system.

Since I made those changes I've been sick a lot less and when I've gotten sick, I haven't gotten as sick as my hubby and kid and I've recovered faster than I used to. I miss some of my old foods, but...I don't miss them enough to want to go back to being sick all the time! Good luck! Not so sick and tired anymore


i could've written your post. my husband is always sick too. he has lots of dripping in his nose and coughs. a lot of it is from being run down and stressed and not having time to rest due to kids. our pediatrician said that it is not uncommon for adults to get many more colds after they have kids. BUT one thing we recently discovered was mold growing on the glass doors in our bedroom. i recently cleaned them and low and behold my husband had a lot of his ''sick'' symptoms come up again. your husband could have a mold allergy. you might want to check around your home and bedroom. just a thought. -moldy

Mom of 4 year old twins always sick

Feb 2009

I have 4 year old twins in pre-school, one with special needs and I work in public schools in Oakland. I cannot seem to stay well for more more than a week. The kids get the sniffles, I end up with a sinus infection. I feel like I have been sick since November. I have been to the doctor and have no under-lying illness except maybe stress. I eat pretty well and am active - have tried regular exercise but have been too sick to keep it up. Help!
Sick and tired of being sick and tired


Ugh. It sounds really demoralizing. My two cents are a) wash your hands all the time and b) use NeilMed sinus rinse in the morning and the evening when you feel you are starting to get something. My spouse gets sinus infections a lot and our sons' illnesses definitely impact her so she does the rinse all the time. The good news is that they're bound to bring home fewer and fewer bugs as they get older and more immune tot them. That has been our experience so far. (knock on wood.) Good luck. Rachel
When raising my twins and their older brother, I was often sick with colds, flu, bronchitis, and pms. My health improved when I started getting flu shots every year and taking a multi- vitamin. I was under the recommended age for flu shots, so I would take a note from my doctor with me when going to a public flu clinic. I often had to go to the back of the line & let elderly people go first. Opinions have changed since then, so it should not be so difficult to get a flu shot if you are in your 30's or 40's. I am 60 now, and last year I got two flu shots, one in early October and one the following January. Sue
The past four winters, since moving back to California and staying home with my daughter, I also had frequent and long-lasting colds/sinus infections. This winter I've hardly been sick at all (and my daughter started Kindergarten at a large public school so I thought it was going to be a bad year.) Here are the changes that I made: (1) drinking a lot of hot tea (at least two mugs full twice a day). Previously I had found that drinking a lot of water helped but having it be hot water seems to make a big difference. (2) Using a Neti pot (uncomfortable at first, not bad once I got used to it). I felt like I was getting one of my usual colds/sinus infections and it only lasted 2-3 days when they normally would last for 3 weeks. (3) Also, about a year ago I got new hypoallergenic pillows and covers. Don't know if any of this is really what's making a difference - all I know is I'm having a really good winter for the first time in five years! No longer all stuffed up
You might ask your doctor about flonase or verymyst. I was totally opposed to this (nasal steroid spray, daily), but I have to say I have been so well since it finally really kicked in. I have dust might allergy, which was my issue, and I needed benadryl to sleep almost every night. But a friend of mine started it when she was constantly sick, and after she ended up in the hospital with a very bad case of walking pneumonia, they started her on flonase. This friend had colds all year long that wiped her out, and they'd last for several weeks. Hasn't had a cold since she started the stuff. The only problem, if you're opposed to it, is that you do have to keep using it even if you're well. I kidn of went on/off at first, b/c I hated the idea, and the results were mixed. Since I finally gave in, I've been in great shape. I can breathe virtually every night! (This is truly exciting, honest)

Constantly Sick - Did I miss a memo??

Jan 2006

Is it me, or are little kids constantly sick? Is anyone else listening to an endless symphony of hacking coughs, irritable whining, and a leitmotif of 'up, mommy, up mommy, UP!!'. I have two kids, 3.5 and 2, and they have been sick as dogs for the last 6 weeks. It kicked-off with an unusual dual snotfest, with mild fever, sore throat and an aversion to speaking to, cuddling with, or being assisted by anyone other than me. Then the older one got a cough that wouldn't go away, along with a compulsion to push her little sister into the dog at every opportunity (not as rare a complication as one might like). Eventually I took her to the doctor. Mild pneumonia. Zithromax. As she got better the shorter one developed an ear infection the doctor described as 'horrible'. Amoxycillin. Then, the taller one developed a fever of 103 and an extreme case of the evil-bitchys, which continues to this day(symptoms include telling everyone except me to 'GO AWAY' and a lot of stomping). Last night the 2 year old started a new cold and has a fever of 102. If you toss in the Berkeley rainy season and the holidays, I doubt I need to go into detail. Let's just say that my expression has become somewhat fixed, and my house looks like a suicide laundry basket walked in and detonated itself. So here are my questions:
1)Is this 'normal'? Are other kids as sick as this?
2)How long does this go on? Do they ever develop an immune system, and please don't say 'when they go to college'.
3)Does anyone have good suggestions on how to cope with protracted periods of crap like this? I've been relying on TV, art projects, and Tylenol, but what should I do with the kids?
4)Am I doing something wrong? Too much dairy? Not enough dairy? Too much wheat? Not enough wheat? More elk antler velvet? Less?
5)How is the lemon law interpreted with regards to toddlers? The older one is past 36 months, so I'm probably out of luck, but can I return the smaller one? If all else fails, does anyone else want to head for the border? I'll drive. Abbi


Some years are better than others. This year my kids have been sick constantly, too. I think it's an early AND bad cold and flu season. This winter my five year old had pneumonia (I missed two weeks of work) AND croup before that (another week in the toilet). My three year old was home this past thursday and friday (and so was I). Last year was better. This year stinks. The only thing you can do is wash your hands (and your child's hands) frequently, and carry alchohol gel and hope for the best. anon
Your post made me LOL! My 4 year old, 6 month old and myself all currently have colds. A 6 month old baby with a stuffy nose has to be the saddest thing you'll ever see. It's very hard to suck down your dinner when your nose is all stuffed up. I don't have any advice, but I sympathize, and if you find yourself in the car headed towards the border, please pick me up in North Berkeley on your way out of town. I'll pay for the gas
Hang in there, this too shall pass. You just have kids at that horrible get sick all the time age, and it is winter. Sounds like the same infection keeps coming back - try a new antibiotic and stomp it out. (Diet has nothing to do with it.) At that age I was mildly under the weather almost constantly. Mine are 6 and 8 now and I can't remember the last time they were sick. Been at least a year. Hang in there mama. My suggestion: get a housecleaner to come in and spruce the place up. You'll be forced to pick up and you will feel so much better. Get some babysitting time. If they scream the whole time pay extra. But you need to get out. If you can't afford any of this call a friend and offer to do trades later. So in summary new antibiotic, house clearer, and babysitting. Also resort to food bribery - if you are quiet for 30 minutes mommy will give you ice cream. Whatever it takes for you to stay sane. jkdm
Oh god, can I join you?! Your post rang true in this house, and we only have one kid (14 months) to deal with. Started with the sniffles, then those went away, I got those, then the sore throat, then hubby got it, but at least he can take stuff (I'm still nursing). Then the baby got bit by one of the cats, amoxocillin, appears to allergic, so a new one cyp-something? Then he got the sniffles again, I got them again, hubby still has them. Then baby starts teething actively again (we didn't even realize we had a break, four molars came in at once, now it looks like the canines & the last four molars are in a race to the finish). He won't sleep in his crib at all (had been doing full nights), and if I try to put him down, he goes into major meltdown, unless he's the one to go off on his own. When a toy isn't working the way he wants it he gets all flustered an upset. Anyone in the house leaves the room, he goes into meltdown. If I don't pick him up right at the moment he wants, meltdown. And don't even mention the house between the busy boy and the four cats, what a disaster! Here's hoping it gets better for all of us! I know I'm beat! kukana
It's been a tough winter. I mean, I know adults who have spent the whole winter coughing. But, yeah, nothing makes you feel more helpless than your kids just getting sick and staying sick. And with two of them, they can take turns, so you're always dealing with at least one sick kid.

No, you probably aren't doing anything wrong. (Or did you leave out about sending them to preschool sick, barefoot in the snow, uphill, both ways?) But practically?

You can always work at handwashing. Not that I think it will make much difference. In preschool I assume the kids pass the germs along by osmosis. But it's a good habit for later. Earaches?

Some kids are just more prone to ear infections. Maybe it's anatomy? One of my sisters had a bunch of them. I think she found a lot of comfort in a heating pad or a hot water bottle (wrapped in a layer of towel) used as a pillow. They always say 20 minutes, but I've found it takes longer to do any good.

And lots of teas -- not necessarily caffeinated. Camomile is nice, or mint, just cool it with a little plain water after it brews, to bring to a comfortable, but still warm, temp. But it does get finally get better. About the time you start worrying about curfews, peers, and all that. lw anon


It seems every year from Labor Day through New Years my 2 kids (now 5 &2) are constantly sick, and thus so are the parents. Last year I remember in about February thinking that it was a miracle that we were finally not sick constantly. I also wonder in the midst of the suffering, am I an unclean person, do we have weak immunity? I feel like we do a pretty good job of washing hands, eating good foods, etc. Whenever I feel like I must be doing something wrong, I hear a few other parents say that they have been constanty sick for last several weeks and it eases my anxiety.

To survive:
- I usually do go to Dr after 5 days of ick/fever just to make sure no ears are involved. - I use meds fairly heavily to keep everyone comfortable (tylenol/advil) including me
-- I feel better if the house isn't a mess so that might mean only take out so I don't have to mess up the kitchen, or 2x a day clean up by the clock, or calling cleaning lady extra time
- Sometimes we just go out even though it seems crazy, just to get out. A walk in the double stroller with everyone bundled up for some fresh air, An errand to Target or Mall (everone stay in stroller) - No place with lots of kids or where they touch stuff but just someplace OUT

- Sometimes I just load everyone in the car, make myself a cup of tea and listen to NPR while we drive around - change of scenery, no HOLDING kids for me etc Hoping Spring brings clear noses!


Ok, I have managed to stop laughing long enough to try to talk you back down off the ledge. It gets better, I swear! I think 3 is about the last really bad year before they finally get a decent immune system (judging from my huge sample of 2 children of my own). But really, it does get better!

How to amuse them while ill? Lord, I wish I knew! Nor do I have any great ideas for how to prevent it - everyone seems to have a theory, all of which conflict. But you have my sympathy, if that helps at all. And it DOES get better! My oldest is now 5, in kindergarten and after-school care, and she has not been sick at all so far this year. All those colds and flus gave her one heck of an immune system, I guess, and she is now healthy as can be. So, hang in there, and if you want to make a run for the border, I'll bring the tequila! emma


YES it's normal to get sick frequently. Humans only become immune to a viral/bacterial infection once the body has been exposed to the pathogens and has produced appropriate antibodies. This is done either by actually catching the viral/bacterial infection or by getting a vaccine against it which stimulates the body to produce the appropriate fighter cells.

They are likely getting sickness after sickness because they were/are exposed to a new infection while still recovering (and thus in a weakened state) to the previous one.

The old addage is true: The best defense is a good offense. Plenty of rest, healthy diet, exercise, sunshine and fresh air will keep them strong. Also, don't be surprised if YOU begin to catch whatever they have; the chances are that you have not been exposed to these strains of virus and bacteria either. Good luck and remember, it's no fun being sick and unlike adults, your kids don't have the coping skills to understand that ''this too shall pass.'' Good luck! resumerep


First of all let me say that I appreciate your sense of humor on this subject. With four kids it often feels like we are under quarantine for months before everything has cleared away at our house. Yes, there are times when we just can't seem to get healthy again. Just when I think we've conquered the last of the bugs a new one takes hold. I don't have any real advice other than I do use a lot of alternative supplements from the health food store like elderberry syrup (antiviral) and my personal favorite is Boiron's ''Chestal'' honey cough syrup- a homeopathic med. which really seems to work well. Vit. C, liquids and rest and LIMIT the refined sugar! I have heard and read multiple times that refined sugar saps our immune system and that is why we get so sick around the holidays when for some reason we let our kids ingest buckets of Halloween candy and candycanes etc.... Keep up the good spirits and try your best not to put the kids up for auction on Ebay. The older they get the better it is supposed to get so hang in there. CB
I believe the memo you missed reads something like this: Every kid will, from the moment they begin to interact with other children (daycare, preschool, kindergarten, whatever), spend about 24 months being constantly sick.

Someone told me this when my kid started daycare, around 15 months. And sure enough, they were right. The ages of 1 and 2 were spent contracting every miserable little bacterial infection or virus imaginable (hand-foot-and-mouth twice, pneumonia, every cold that came down the pike, something like 8 ear infections, the list goes on). About 3 months after my kid turned 3, the nonsense stoppped. Now he gets sick about twice every winter (a much more manageable list). Apparently, it doesn't matter when your kid starts interacting with other kids, (3 months or 5 years) they have to go through their two years of hell. After that, they do have at least a rudimentary immune system. Hang in there. Karen


I've been lucky this year - my first grader hasn't had a major episodes of illness yet, although everyone in his class has been throwing up, fainting, etc. Last year was our personal low point -- my favorite was when he got sick the second day he was back at school after a two week break. A month later, it was worse -- both of us were sick at the SAME time, and I HAD to work. I ended up doing a lot of stuff via conference call with the mute button on so people on the other end couldn't hear us throwing up. Here's a tip: when your kid has the flu, don't give him ice cream, even if he asks really nicely.

Besides being vigilant about handwashing (which in my house, is an ideal we don't necessarily achieve and honestly, what can you do when kids just naturally do things like put their hands on the walls in BART and then lick them) I only have two suggestions for you. My first one may be controversial but here goes. I limit the Tylenol/Advil to times when it is really necessary, and refrain from automatically administering it for any slight fever. The fever has two functions in my uninformed, non-professional opinion. No. 1, it's the body's way of fighting infection and forcing a sick person to rest. No. 2, a kid with a decent fever will lie there passively watching TV and not bug the mom to death. Obviously, use the meds if the fever is high, but if it's day two or three and the fever is moderate but not high, I let him ride it out with plenty of liquids (but not too much plain water - it dehydrates!). I have my own personal "break point" I've established for when I administer Advil - you should ask your doctor.

The other tip is chicken noodle soup - not the canned kind - but homemade from your favorite Vietnamese restaurant. My favorite is Sai's in San Francisco on Jackson Street; they serve it with fresh basil leaves and a wedge of lemon. I've read that the curative powers of chicken soup aren't mythical, they're real, and I believe it.

Oh, yeah - I have a third tip for you. Put your kids in fluorescent haz mat suits - so I can see you coming. Thanks!!!!! Fran


--- I'm so sorry to hear about your children getting sick so often. I have heard that this year there is a really bad cold virus going around that hits the lungs hard and has resulted in many a parent sending their children, or adults themsleves, to the doctors and even to the emergency room in some cases. So you are probably not the only one right now with kids with endless coughs and crankiness. I believe that it is quite normal for kids that age to catch just about every bug that goes around. However, some kids will heal much faster than others and get less sick. My daughter is 5 years old and is now in kindergarten. And I've noticed that she doesn't get sick as often as she did when she went to preschool. So hang in there. It does improve.

Since I really don't know what your life style is like, and what exactly goes on in your day to day routine, it is hard to say what you are doing is ''too much'' or ''too little''. But it is really important to make sure your child is getting all the basics for good health: nutritious food, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and plenty of rest. Probably the first place you should start to work on is boosting your childrens' immune system by feeding them highly nutritious foods, and staying away from foods that are overly processed and refined. Too much sugar and refined starches, like juices with added high fructose corn syrup, soda pop, breads, and boxed cereals are especially bad for children's health. As a way to get started you might go see a nutritionist. There is one that comes highly recommended. Her name is Nori Hudson. She came to my daughters preschool to give a talk to the parents. She had some great advice on what kinds of foods were best for children and why; how much daily sunshine and exercise they need; and how much sleep is required for their age. Nori also recommended a cookbook called ''Nourishing Traditions'' by Sally Fallon. It will give you an idea of Nori's approach to nutrition. However, if you are a vegetarian or are thinking about becoming one, this book does not support strict vegetarianism - read the introduction in the section on ''Proteins'', page 26! Laurey


ROTFLMAO!!!! Clearly, you have a fabulous sense of humor about this miserable situation and I doubt I have much real advice for you. But yes, this is normal, and yes, it will pass before they go to college. It will come back again though. With my kids (almost 5 and 1 1/2) it's cyclical -- they'll both be sick for weeks on end, then they'll both be fine for a while, then they'll get sick again. I think it's because, once you're sick, your immune system gets overwhelmed easily, so one sickness begets another. As long as at least one parent stays reasonably healthy we generally manage. A sling and/or back carrier is a life saver when a toddler wants UP all the time (slings are not just for tiny babies!); if they need to work off some restlessness, sending them out to play in the rain won't actually make them any sicker and you can then occupy everyone with a nice warm bath afterwards.

Good luck! Holly


I'll come to the border with you - I will bring the driving music and chocolate!

Loved your post and wanted to say that we, too, seem to be in the cycle of sick. My kids, almost 5 and 2.5, have had many of the illnesses you described since 2 weeks before Christmas with a mild stomach flu thrown in for the whole family. Happy Happy Joy Joy. I will say that I was surprised that my eldest was as striken as the younger one because she has had a pretty hardy immune system since around the time she turned 3 and I thought she was on the road to Cold Resistance. I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel but if you want to get there faster maybe you could take your kids to a homeopath? I am sure there are suggestions for them on BPN. Be well and in the mean time, have you built any indoor forts lately (blankets, pillows, chairs, cardboard boxes)? We get good mileage out of them. Another Sickie


I'm sure you'll find that your situation is very common, and that a lot of parents struggle with their kids being sick all the time. I want to share what is working for me in terms of helping both me and my child to stay healthy and strong. I follow a program of quality vitamins and supplements. My 11 month old son has had several colds and coughs in his first year, but the supplements have helped so much that my baby has recovered within a day or two. I was told about this program by a friend who has a 13 year old boy who has not been on antibiotics since he had an ear infection at 6 mos. old. He is so healthy that his mom has never had to take him to the doctor for an illness!

I use a high quality infant vitamin powder that mixes easily with food or water/juice. It takes care of iron supplementation so necessary for babies and children, and does not cause the constipation of rice cereal. I also crush chewable vitamin C and alfalfa tablets (a natural decongestant and filled with trace minerals) and mix them with my baby's food to boost his immune system and help clear any congestion or fluid build-up. The key to the success of this regime, I feel, is the quality of the products I use.

I've also noticed a number of articles and studies recently about the benefits of probiotics in treating diarrhea and eczema in infants/children, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease, colitis and Crohn's disease among adults. I use a great probiotic--easy to take, safe for babies/kids, doesn't require refrigeration, and the only product on the market that guarantees delivery of live bacteria.

I would be happy to share information if anyone is interested in learning more about what I'm doing. Please feel free to contact me at my email address. sarah


Is it normal to have so many colds?

Feb 2004

My 14 month-old daughter has been sick off and on for the past 4- 5 months with different colds, bugs, viruses, etc. One week she is fine and the next week she has the flu, or has vomiting and diarrhea or a runny nose. Each bug or sickness seems to last anywhere from 24 hours to 5 days or so (sometimes her coughs last 3-4 weeks). We’ve taken her in to see the doctor on multiple occasions and the pediatricians tell us the same thing – “Nothing to worry about, kids get sick a lot. Give her Tylenol.” She is up to date on her immunizations. She seems to be developmentally fine (though, she does appear tired a lot).

Do kids get sick a lot? Is it normal for young children to have runny-noses, fevers, coughs, and other illness-like symptoms so frequently and for so many months in a row?

Thanks,
Trying not to be too concerned


I went through a very similar situation with my daughter and felt I needed to respond. My daughter was a very healthy child until she hit 1 1/2 years when suddenly she started catching everything and seemed quite fatigued. I kept trying to convince myself that this was normal ''kids get sick,'' but my instinct was telling me differently. Well, I was right, my daughter did have a medical complication that was impacting her immune system. My advice is to follow your intuition. If you are concerned you may want to get a second opinion....maybe a pediatrician at Children's Hospital who encounters a wide array of conditions. Most likely the second opinion will confirm your pediatricians advice, but I'm a true believer that a mother's instinct should never be ignored. Trust in your Intuition
Though lots of kids get sick a lot,I do not believe it's normal. Your child may have a food allergy that causes her system to be weak. My younger son got sick during his toddler to pre-school years....he'd get sniffles, turning into a cold,start coughing, have a full blown cough then it would get better and better and be almost better, and start all over again. We tried everything from antibiotics, acupuncture, air filters, etc. When we took him off of dairy he got better and that pattern has never reoccured. We used goat's milk instead of cows milk and now at 8 1/2 he can have dairy. Dairy is one of the common kid allergies and pretty easy to eliminate. You might also try to find a good quality kid multivitamin to help boost her immune system. Good luck been there
Hello! You didn't say whether or not! your daughter is in daycare or not, but I know for a fact that it is very normal for children that go to daycare to get sick every other week. Boy, do I know that too well! My son was soooo sick so often his first year at daycare that I really considered taking him out completely and just bite the bullet and hire a nanny. But it seems to be getting better the second year. I know it's very distressing, but it really is quite common and I am hoping that it will get better and better every year! Amy
I sympathize with your situation. My son was the same way-- he seemed to get sick constantly from infancy. I was breastfeeding, so mystified since all the books said this protects babies from getting sick as much. Anyway, on several occasions I discussed this with the doctor, a! nd he always said nothing to worry about. By the time my kid was 2.5, he'd had like 15 colds, about half with high fevers, two vomiting bugs, pneumonia, an ear infection, and roseala. In the next year, he got two more stomach bugs, bronchitis, and lots more bad colds. Anyway, he was in child care, which the doctor always pointed to. Then last year we tested his blood for lead levels, he got some abnormal results (low white counts). I was convinced this meant an immune problem or even worse, some kind of blood cancer. The doctors kept saying--this is normal, he probably has asymptomatic viral suppression--which he did! We re-tested and everything was normal. I finally found a patient doctor who spent a lot of time explaining why I had nothing to worry about. Kids get sick a lot, especially if in daycare. My son never ended up in the hospital with a sickness, wa! s growing and eating well, has healthy gums, and a normal spleen (he checked all those things to re-assure me). Now my son is 4-1/2 and getting sick much less often! alisa

We get every virus that comes down the pike

July 2002

It seems like my toddler son and I get every virus that comes down the pike. It has gotten to the point where I am sick all the time and maybe well for about 4 days beteween colds or flu's. My son is in childcare 2 mornings a week and has many outings with other kids. Here is the thing, we eat well, rest well and I take vitamins and herbs, tonics, garlic in fact I will try anything that I think may boost my immune system. We are under a great deal of stress reciently and I imagine that is contributing to our poor health. There is only so much I can do about the stress and I am trying to ''let it go'' but it isn't always possible. Is it normal for a toddler and his parents to be so sick? Before he was born I was never sick like this. When can I expect to be healthy again?


Dear Mom who is sick ''all the time'': Our son was often sick and so we also got ill as well for the first 6 or 8 months he began preschool. I also got to a point where I wondered if all the illness was worth the few hours of free time! However, it got better once he built up his immune system. The teachers or parents if it's a co-op could help decrease the spreading of microbes by being more diligent about having some sort of system so that kids wash their hands after using the restroom, before eating snacks, and making sure they don't go around with runny noses for long (An would wipe it before they could wipe it on their hands and possibly transmit the microbes). After seeing or hearing about mouth, hand & foot diseases (Coxsacchi virus sp?), ringworm and scabies within 3 months at our preschool, I actually touch their hands now with the back of my hand to make sure it's moist if they don't look wet... I've seen too many happy-go-lucky kids run off the toilet right to the snack table without a wash. Good luck! Susan Susan
Well, for what it is worth, you are not alone. We have a 22 month daughter who has had 6 colds since Christmas, and I have caught every one of them - 1 per month - with about a week to 10 days in between. About half have turned into bacterial infections - strep, ear infections, etc. As I work, I have felt this was almost ''career-limiting''. My MD said that I should expect this and it is at least ''normal''. Ha - not my husband who has only mild cases if at all. MD said that there are about 300 cold virus to get, once you get them, you are imune to them, but at this rate I could be sick like this for the next 10 years. Hopefully, your child will get something you had as a child and you will get a break!!! Good Luck! Ah-Choo
I hate to tell you this, but what you and he are experiencing is perfectly normal. My son and I have been sick almost nonstop since he turned 13 months. That's when I weaned him, so he no longer had the breastmilk immunities to stave the viruses off. And daycare kids pick up everything. My son was in daycare full- time from 3-1/2 months to 10 months. He's now 2-1/2 and has been in daycare three days a week ever since. His pediatrician and my OB/Gyn tell me that we should expect this onslaught of viruses to continue until he turns 5. Then he'll actually have fewer illnesses than those of his classmates who weren't in daycare. My OB/Gyn told me the story of when he was in medical school. He said he and his colleagues all hated the pediatric rotation because they spent the whole time sick as dogs. But the regular pediatric physicians never got sick because they had built up immunities (the same goes for daycare teachers).

That said, I'm not sure that the non-daycare kids have it that much easier. My girlfriend's toddlers who weren't in daycare have been sick nearly as often as I and my son have. Basically, they're meeting other kids at her mother's group outings, at friends' houses and at the store.

Hang in there. Gwynne


I would say that it is common for toddlers and their family to be sick quite often, especially if the child is around other children. My daughter's doctor said that kids on average get 10 to 12 illnesses a year. Unfortunately parents usually come down with the illnesses too. Being exposed to and catching colds, viruses and flus actually makes your immune system stronger. Once kids are in school, you can pretty much expect the month of September and October to be filled with illnesses. Kids always get sick when they come in contact with other kids that they have not been around. It is just part of parenthood. It does get better. Amy
Boy can I relate. It does get better, though. Having 2 kids in daycare fulltime kept me sick most of the fall, spring and winter for 4 years, but finally when my youngest was 3 the illnesses abated. I still will get 2-3 colds per fall/winter...but nothing like the every 10 day cycle previous. It seemed to help when I made time for regular workouts at the gym. I would do this in lui of a proper lunch hour, eating a quick lunch at my desk at 11:30. I know its hard to imagine the light at the end of the tunnel but it is there. Lindsey
Oh yes, that happened to us too! One cold after another with a day or two in between, along with sinus infections, ear infections, bronchitis--on and on. I remember going to work sick a lot, which isn't nice for anyone. We changed from a daycare center to a family care situation with only one other child and it really reduced the amount of sickness. We may have paid a price when it was time to start kindergarten, but by then my twins were stronger and I was less run down too. Maybe you could reconsider your day care arrangement to minimize exposures? anon
From the time I put my son in a nanny-share situation until now (a total of about 8 months), I have been sick an enormous number of times. I've had five or six colds, the flu, and my son in addition has had a strep infection and the infamous ''hand-foot- and-mouth disease. We also are careful eaters, and I've always been an extremely healthy person. Somewhere I read that for about 24 months after a child is first put in a daycare or school system, they catch every virus out there, but that after that period, their immune system will be much stronger and they won't get sick much. Kids who go into daycare early go through the period when they're infants or toddlers, those who don't, get it during preschool, or kindergarten, or whenever the period of exposure to their peers starts. Karen
I'm sorry to say that your experience is perfectly normal. This winter and spring I was sick nearly constantly. As soon as I recovered from one illness I'd get sick again. Of course, my two and four year old children were also sick. My husband also. However, it turns out that I've developed (or always had) asthma, which was causing my illnesses to last longer. The asthma was exacerbating my illnesses, but not causing them.

I can offer a couple of pieces of advise, however. First, check the hygiene practices of your child care. Are they excluding obviously and newly sick children? Are they washing the toys on a regular basis? Are they helping the children to wash their hands regularly? Are they removing toys that have been mouthed from general circulation until they've been cleaned? Are they making sure that sippy cups aren't shared? These practices have been shown to reduce the number of infections that are passed along. Also, and I found this very helpful - don't share food with your toddler. Your drink is yours and his is his (or hers). This includes food also. Don't let your child take bites off of your fork, and don't eat your child's leftovers. That will help to minimize the passing of viruses back and forth. So your child may get sick, but at least you won't (particularly helpful for stomach flu type viruses). Also, wash your hands a lot if your child is sick (especially after blowing a nose).

I hope some of this helps you. It won't eliminate disease but it might bring it down to a manageable level. Julie


I too was feeling like I was constantly fighting illnesses. My son was 2.5 and in preschool at the time and I was catching everything from both him and my husband. It was extremely frustrating. I saw my primary care physician, whom I totally respect, and he diagnosed allergies as the culprit! I knew that I had developed allergies over the last few year but I didn't feel they were that bad or that they would contribute to illnesses. He explained that if my allergies weren't treated I would be susceptible to germs... in any event, I have been using Flonaise and I am much better off! Good luck, Vicki

What else can I do to stay healthy?

Nov 2002

Hi, I tend to think of myself as a healthy person (eat well, exercise, emotionally stable, etc...) but I have been ill with what seems like the flu 5 times since June. I've gotten the usual advice from my doctor: lots of fluids, rest, etc... but I am finding that being sick 7-10 days of the month is getting bothersome. The symptoms usually manifest themselves in my throat, I lose my voice, cough a lot, sore throat, low fever, nothing that can't be remedied with cold medicine but I would like to know if there is any advice that I haven't thought of on preventative steps I could take to stay healthy for longer than a month! I work with lots of children which would lead me to believe that I catch flus from them, but I try to keep my hands clean and to take care of myself. Any advice welcome.


I have two suggestions for you that have helped me enormously.
1) When you first feel the slightest inkling that an illness might be coming on, try using Yin Chao. It is found at Chinese Herb stores, and is wonderful stuff--I have not had a full blown cold in more than a year.
2) Wear a scarf. I know, it sounds simplistic, but I am convinced it really works.
Hope this helps
elizabeth
A flu shot has worked wonders for me. I have had one the last 5 years and can only recall 1 mild cold. What I also take whenever i feel a cold coming on is Wellness Formula. It is an herbal mixture (you can get it at Whole Foods) in pills or liquid. It smells horrible but works great. archie
I've had a similar problem lately, as has my 11 year old son...we get ''colds'' every 6-8 weeks....sore throat, coughing, runny nose etc.

I recently read a book that talks about how important it is to have a healthy and strong immune system (weak immune system, introduction of cold or flu virus, body can't fight it, we get sick). I've upped my dosage of Vitamin C (I usually take plenty of supplements, eat healthy etc.) and by the advice in a book about Omega 3's, I've started taking and giving both my boys Omega 3 capsules every day.

A while ago I was in Vitamin Express on Shattuck and Rose in Berkeley and I overheard the owner talking to someone she knew. They were talking about a new book about Omega 3's that just came out....she said ''...I tell people if they're not taking their Omegs 3's, don't complain about their health''. THat comment impressed me with the bit I knew about Omega 3 Fatty Acids.....so it's only been a few weeks that we've been taking this new supplement so I can't tell you if it works yet. I've also cut out sugar, as that is definately a bad food for me. Have you checked out sensitivities to foods? Wheat and dairy would be big ones....unfortunately chocolate too. You may not have an allergy, but a sensitivity which will weaken your system. Good luck. I'm interested to hear what others have to say. June


Hi, In the beginning of November I had the worst whatever it was happened to me. I lost my voice, was coughing non-productively (Very dry, irritating) and had sore throat. Nothing helped: not steaming over endless pots of hot water with herbs, not western pills. It just had to run its course.

It seems like it is your weak area: your lungs and throat and throat is the entryway to lungs, so take time to nourish these organs and replenish them with nutrients that are essential for their health. I am not a doctor, but believe in combo of Western meds and holistic ways too. Take some time to read up on lungs and throat and what foods benefit their function. Simple traditional Chinese medicine book should have answers. All organs are paired up in Chinese medicine, so figure out your pair and nourish it too. Sorry, I cannot be more specific, i only had abrief intro to Holistic medicine. Take care of your lungs, Yelena lenai


Do you get as sick with the 2nd kid?

June 2002

A friend and I were discussing how we were completely sleep deprived the first year of motherhood and then sick almost constantly the second year of motherhood. I am not planning on having a second child but my friend is. She is expecting to be sleep deprived again but she was wondering if she will also get as sick as much as she did with her first child. Do you become more immune to childhood illnesses with your second child or is it pretty much the same as with your first? Thanks for any advice. Madeleine


We were neither as sick or as tired with the second child -- BUT, he was not in daycare as the first had been, which was likely a big factor in everyone's good health. We were also much calmer and more confident which made the entire experience better than the first time through. Heather
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