As a pediatrician, Dr. Kimberly Shookman talks to a lot of parents. A common question they ask is, “Is it normal for my child to be sick a lot?”
Knowing that many parents want answers to this question, Dr. Shookman shares why repeat colds and respiratory infections is typically the norm.
This question comes up all the time at our Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics offices, especially from parents whose child just entered day care or school. The number of infections that can be normal for kids in their first year in group schooling is far more than most parents expect. It is normal for kids to get sick. Part of childhood is being exposed to illnesses and developing the immune response to provide protection as we age.
It is normal to have six to eight respiratory infections – which we typically call colds – per year. These respiratory infections can last 14 days. Many of these illnesses tend to cluster in the fall and winter. Add in a few tummy bugs and other viral infections, like rashes or hand, foot & mouth disease (HFM).
Do the math, and this means that kids can be sick nearly one-third of the year. No wonder parents lose patience and get worried!
To prevent illnesses, these steps can be helpful:
• Keep active daily as active people get fewer illnesses.
• Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to best absorb key vitamins and minerals that support your immune system.
• Encourage all caregivers to quit smoking, as secondhand and thirdhand smoke lead to more colds and ear infections.
• Try a humidifier at night as dry air can lead to more colds.
• Get proper sleep. Sleep deprived kids tend to get more illnesses.
It’s also helpful to watch for these red flags of an underlying health issue:
• Failure to thrive, including poor weight gain or developmental delays.
• Frequent thrush infections after first birthday.
• Recurrent bacterial infections like abscesses, skin infections or pneumonia.
• Family history of immune issues.
• Frequent hospitalizations.
If your parent-sense says something is not right, it is NEVER wrong to visit an Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics provider to get checked out. We’re here to help. We’re here for you and your child.
If you’re unsure where to go for care based on your child’s symptoms, we have resources to help.