The scourge has already begun, and parents are once again wondering why their toddler or young child may have already had two colds and winter is just starting – officially!
It is truly incredible how often a toddler can get sick. I even have a hard time believing there are so many viruses one child can catch!
In any case, I do know from experience that there doesn’t seem to be any way “around” the frequent runny noses, coughs, mystery fevers, and episodes of vomiting and diarrhea that a parent has to get through. Alas, there’s no shortcut to avoid this annual desert of illness; you have to walk the walk.
On the plus side, it takes a lot of little viral illnesses to help build a child’s immune system. We can give vaccinations to prevent meningitis, whooping cough, polio, mumps, measles and rubella. However, there are hundreds of viruses that cause colds and coughs – and there’s not a vaccine for any of these.
So, once your child reaches the age where he or she is walking and touching a million things a day – even though you wash their hands frequently – you should not be surprised or alarmed that they seem to have a new illness every few weeks.
Every day, parents ask me questions like, “What vitamin works to prevent colds?” and “Do probiotics prevent those fever viruses?” If I had the “secret” potion, trust me, I would tell them, but I’d also bottle it, sell it on the Internet and retire to a tropical island after receiving the Nobel Prize in medicine for finding that elusive “secret.”
In the meantime, I’ll continue to reassure parents that they will get through these early illnesses. Everyone does.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician, medical editor and media host. Submit questions at kidsdr.com.