Is your child sick all the time?
It is normal for a child to get sick. In fact it is a good thing!
Exposure to viruses and other bugs helps their immune system to develop and to learn what is a threat and what is not.
When a child starts day care or school they are exposed to many viruses and bugs that their immune system has never contacted before. This will also happen when their younger sibling first goes to day care or school, and, probably, the adults in the house will also catch the bug!
For the first 6 months or so your child has the immunity passed on to them from their mother. This immunity decays over time and their body has to start to produce its own antibodies to viruses and other bugs which means that until this happens, your child will get sick all the time…
It is important to remember that your child is not sick from having wet feet or hair, or playing outside in the cold, or even getting chilled. They have to be exposed to a virus or microbe which then multiples in our bodies.
Some research shows that being exposed to adverse conditions such as cold actually strengthens our bodies and immune system.
Colds and other viruses are more prevalent in winter because we spend more time indoors, with windows closed and in close company of others. An ideal situation for sharing the viruses around.
When should you seek medical advice?
Generally you do not need to be concerned about your child having a cold unless your child has a high fever, a moderate fever that lasts more than 24-48hrs, they become dehydrated, or a develop a secondary infection such as sinusitis or bronchitis. Parenting has more information on this.
If you are concerned about your sick child you can always seek medical advice. You can do this over the phone at Telehealth Ontario.
And, of course, if your child has difficulty breathing, has seizures, or you suspect your child may be seriously ill take them to hospital or call 911 immediately.
Treating colds and other bugs.
Not much can be done to help your child fight a cold or other virus, or even a stomach upset, it just takes time. Keep them warm, well hydrated and try to get them into the fresh air making sure to keep them well wrapped up if its cold out.
Antibiotics do not treat viruses, but may be indicated if your child develops a secondary infection such as a chest or sinus infection.
Removing the tonsils or adenoids will also not stop your child getting sick. By removing them you can reduce symptoms, however that is all you are doing, reducing symptoms, you are not addressing the underlying cause of why your child is sick all the time.
Should I keep my sick child out of school?
As long as any fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, and their symptoms such as coughing is not enough to disturb other children they should be sent back to school as soon as possible. It may, however, be necessary to keep them out of physical activity until they feel up to it.
It is very normal, and even beneficial for your child to get sick several times a year. However, if they are sick more often, it takes them longer to recover, or they have recurrent secondary infections you should seek medical advice.
You may also wish to consult a Naturopathic Doctor or a Functional or Integrative Medical Doctor who can look more deeply into possible underlying causes that may be impacting their immune system.