If it seems like young children and their parents are sick nearly all the time, you’re not imagining it! Young children–children under six–come down with colds six to eight times every year, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Allen emergency room

Why are school-age children constantly sporting a running nose?

Why Children And Parents Get Sick More

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons kids get sick more often. Young children’s bodies are still growing, which means their immune systems, digestive systems, and central nervous systems are still growing. With these systems continually in flux, children are more vulnerable to germs and environmental toxins. Similarly, children are exposed to a greater number of germs than adults. Children eat, drink, and breathe more to accommodate their growing bodies. Plus, they play in the mud and crawl around on the floor–things most adults just do not do.

The reason parents get sick more often is that they are regularly caring for sick children. A study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases revealed that parents are 28% more likely to get sick than those without any children.

When Is It A Problem?

Although germs can and do spread, often the most effective treatment for the common cold is bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. For run-of-the-mill symptoms, it is not necessary to seek emergency care or comprehensive specialized pediatric care. It is necessary when symptoms persist day after day or when symptoms become severe.

If you notice any of the following, bring your child to an Allen emergency room for treatment right away:

  • Your child is exhausted and disoriented.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Dry lips or sunken eyes
  • Decreased urine
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Symptoms that last for 10 days or more

Remember, it is always best to err on the side of caution. If you are uncertain whether your child requires treatment, bring them in for a professional opinion. Urgent care centers are most likely to diagnose patients with a cough, upper respiratory infection, acute pharyngitis, acute sinusitis, or acute bronchitis. In other words, staff members are experienced and well-trained and will be able to help you determine if your child’s condition is serious.

Preventing Kids From Getting Sick In The First Place

Although colds and complications are not always preventable (and a trip to an Allen emergency room may be inevitable and necessary), there are some steps parents can take to reduce their children’s likelihood of getting ill–and their own, too!

Here is what you can do.

  • Teach kids thorough hand-washing habits. Encourage kids to wash their hands before meals, after using the bathroom, and whenever they are soiled. Teach kids to sing Happy Birthday or recite the alphabet for an appropriate hand-washing length.
  • Keep the house clean. Germs can live on hard surfaces. Scrub surfaces to prevent germs from spreading.
  • Teach kids to cover their mouths when they cough and their noses when they sneeze.
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently, too!
  • Don’t send your children to school sick.
  • Feed children a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and make sure children get regular exercise.

Kids get sick. Then they make their parents sick. The good news is that a trip to an Allen emergency room is not necessarily in your future.

Use your best judgment. Teach kids good habits. Encourage them to drink clear liquids and rest. When in doubt, consult a doctor for the best treatment options for your child.