Despite the fact that the weather is beautiful in most parts of the country, it is Fall which means more viral upper respiratory infections. This is especially true of the 12-15 month old children who are now getting their “first of many” colds. Many of their parents are concerned as to why they are suddenly getting sick…as they have not been sick before?
Well, here is the deal. Last fall and winter these children were babies in arms, and were not crawling and walking which also means they were not exploring their environment and all of the germs that go with touching EVERYTHING! During that first winter season (if a child is not not in day care or school) and does not have siblings (to get them sick) they may luck out for the first 2 - 12 months without a runny nose or cough.
But….those days come to an end once they become toddlers. This is not alarming at all, but just a fact of life. Toddlers will catch a little bit of everything once they hit one. That means they may have a cold, cough or even a fever every month…for the next fall/winter/early spring months, (which is about the next 5-6 months). As a parent of a new toddler this is really difficult to fathom!
Every parent wants to know how they can “avoid” these illnesses….short answer is it is impossible and you should actually look at each viral illness as a victory which primes the immune system, and helps develop antibodies to some of the viruses we are all exposed to every day. With each viral illness your child’s immune system is actually getting stronger…and you will notice that around the age of three your child will not catch as many colds and coughs as they did when they were younger. I know that seems like such a long time!! Unfortunately, parents of toddlers also catch a few more illnesses as they too are “over exposed” by their child.
Remember to always watch your child for any difficulty breathing by looking at their chest with their shirts off - you do not want to see them look like they are “working with their ribs to breathe”. You also need to make sure they are well oxygenated and should turn red with cough and never a dusky blue color…especially important in young infants. Any concerns call your doctor.
So…gear up for winter as peak upper respiratory season is not even here yet!! Get those flu vaccines too.