Sick All the Time!
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
Sick All the Time!
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.
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
normal, according to my regular doctor) and has prescribed some herbs
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
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.
happens when I move to a new environment (new germs, I guess), such as
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
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
medical professional (herbalist, acupuncture, etc), who recommended a
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
research to that effect, though.
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
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.
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
Here's a NY Times article called ''Risk Factors for the Common
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
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.
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!
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
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
behold my husband had a lot of his ''sick'' symptoms come up again. your
could have a mold allergy. you might want to check around your home and
just a thought.
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.
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
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
immune tot them. That has been our experience so far. (knock on wood.)
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.
The past four winters, since moving back to California and staying home
daughter, I also had frequent and long-lasting colds/sinus infections.
I've hardly been sick at all (and my daughter started Kindergarten at a
school so I thought it was going to be a bad year.) Here are the changes
made: (1) drinking a lot of hot tea (at least two mugs full twice a day).
had found that drinking a lot of water helped but having it be hot water
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,
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
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)
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.
Some years are better than others. This year my kids have been sick
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
It seems every year from Labor Day through New Years my 2 kids (now 5
constantly sick, and thus so are the parents. Last year I remember in
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
- 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!
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
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!
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.
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
Hang in there.
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.
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!
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.
I'll come to the border with you - I will bring the driving music and
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.
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
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?
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
You might also try to find a good quality kid multivitamin to
help boost her immune system.
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
I hope some of this helps you. It won't eliminate disease but
it might bring it down to a manageable level.
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
this page was last updated: Mar 6, 2010
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network