Going down with a cold is a numbers game so avoid children

little children increase the odds of catching a coldCatching a cold is never pleasant, for most of us, it boils down to a week or so of misery, snots and sniffs, but for people with underlying lung disease, it can be fatal.

So vigilance is necessary.

But what should you WATCH out for ?

What makes you a sitting duck for a cold ?

Experience suggests being “run down” i.e. being a little a lot STRESSED, makes you especially vulnerable to respiratory tract infections.

And logic suggests, anyone who has inherently “weak” lungs, due to underlying lung diseases, such as COPD, is going to be at increased risk of “catching a cold”.

But research published in the Journal of Clinical Virology, concludes the biggest risk factor for going down with a cold, is neither stress nor lung weakness, but it is spending time with (sick) young children.

Yup, the snotty nosed little ones, are quite literally cesse pools of germs, that MAKE you sick.

In search of a cold

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester tracked the nasal secretions flowing out of 127 noses, several times over the course of a year.

The noses all belonged to people with emphysema i.e. they had “weak” lungs.

The samples were probed for the presence of viruses and bouts of the sniffles were faithfully documented by the participants.

1000 snot samples later, an interesting pattern emerged.

A lot of the time, the researchers found a cold virus or two, lurking in the nasal passages. But despite the presence of the virus – the person was perfectly healthy.

No sign of snots or sniffles.

Confirming the family of viruses responsible for causing colds are always out and a bout. And we run into these viruses regularly – without succumbing to trouble.

Going down with a cold

So a lot of the time, our encounter with the virus is a non event.

But if the virus is acquired from a young child – the odds that it becomes AN EVENT, is a lot higher.

Congestion, runny noses, soar throats, hoarseness and so on, were twice as likely to happen, when people were routinely spending time with younger children.

The trouble with young children

The researchers speculate it is A NUMBERS game.

Most of the time….

An encounter with a cold causing virus, is met with RESISTANCE.

Our immune system rises to the occasion and takes out the invading posse of virus, before it has time to cause a problem.

But getting control of a posse, is a whole lot easier than dealing with a legion.

The legion invades

By their very nature, young children don’t worry too much about keeping their germs to themselves.

But in addition to their poor “hygiene habits”, which ensure maximum distribution of virus infested nasal secretions…. they probably produce a lot more.

A cold virus inside a child, faces a lot less opposition, since the child’s immune system will typically be “meeting and greeting” the particular variety of virus, for the very first time.

First time encounters are a lot more work….

  • The “right meeter and greeter” has to be located – a process that can take a little time.
  • Once this “meeter and greeter” has been identified, it must be cloned, so that there are enough “meeters and greeters” to get out there to “meet and greet” the virus. The cloning process also takes time.
  • As the clock ticks, the viruses enjoy bouncing around in the nasal passages, increasing in number, with every passing hour.

By the time the immune system gets organized, the number of viruses has skyrocketed. All these viruses are spilling out, along with those body secretions.

It is a numbers game

Being exposed to a legion of invaders, leaves you a lot more vulnerable to experiencing your own bout of “flu”, because you won’t have enough “meters and greeters” either.

So to avoid going down with a cold – avoid young children, especially snotty nosed ones, if possible.

I realize as a mom, you can’t disown your child, so you might want to fumigate your lungs with a little vitamin D bug spray during “flu” season and make sure to eat your greens and things.

Factors associated with symptomatic rhinovirus infection in patients with COPD. Journal of Clinical Virology (2012) 55(4):343-347.  Anurag Gandhi, Edward E. Walsh, Maria A. Formica, Patricia A. Hennessey, Mary M. Criddle, Derick R. Peterson, Andrea Baran, Ann R. Falsey. 

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Further reading

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Don’t monkey around with your respiratory health You need to seek out coughing and sneezing displays from a distance Does weird coloured phlegm always warrant an antibiotic ?

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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