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36% of parents feel constantly under the weather in some way

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As a parent do you constantly feel under the weather in some way? Fear not, a recent study by Healthspan says you are not alone.

Parents will be all too familiar with the feelings of dread that accompany the first signs of an ill child. Piles of snotty tissues, bedside care and forehead dabbing are factors that will inevitably lead to one outcome, a family-wide outbreak of the lurgy.

Unfortunately, by the time one parent comes down with the illness, the kids have recovered and it is back to the daily grind. The maternal or paternal instinct to nurture prevails no matter how bad the symptoms may be.  

A recent study by Healthspan has looked into family illness rates. The study of parents with children up to eighteen years old living at home, looks into the coping mechanisms parents adopt when their family is struck down with a bug.

Does the study show any differences between men and women?

Seen as on average 36% of parents feel constantly under the weather in some way, these coping mechanisms are a pretty big part of everyday life. It also shows some interesting differences between men and women in regards to who copes better.  

The study revealed that both mums and dads soldier on when they are suffering with sickness. In response to being asked how they tend to behave when ill, 58% of women and a whopping 62% of men said they battle on regardless of how they feel.

Healthspan also asked each person whether they or their partner were better at coping with illness. Interestingly, the majority of women voted for themselves, but almost two fifths (38%) of men thought they were on the same level as their partner.

When it comes to avoiding getting ill in the first place, pre-holiday is the prime time for preventing the onset of a lurgy. Whilst more men claim to exercise more often to avoid the latter (19%), the most popular prevention ideas for women are trying to get more sleep (31%), eating more fruit and veg (28%), and avoiding people who are ill (26%).

Interestingly, men tend to increase their vitamin C intake when they start to feel under the weather, whereas a lot of women don’t take any vitamin C supplements, indicating that men are ahead of the game and take vitamin C for its continued health benefits as opposed to just for preventing illness.  

Dr Meg Arroll, a Psychologist and Health Researcher said, ‘this may be related to our innate drive to survive and do everything we can to ensure our offspring’s survival. In our ancestors’ time, men would have needed to be fit and well to ‘fight or flight’ in face of a threat. But women, having different roles safeguarded their family in a pattern of ‘tend or befriend’.

‘We haven’t changed that much and so even now with differing gender roles, women’s protective instincts kick in - they care for others (over themselves), whereas men maintain their own physical fitness in order to protect and provide for their families.’

Despite evolving as a species, our instincts to protect our offspring remain a priority. There are plenty of minor differences between men and women when it comes to coping with illness and nursing sick children back to health, but it is heartening to see that protecting our own remains the focal point of present day family values.

How to take action against lurgies

Pelargonium Cold Relief contains an extract of the root of the herb Pelargonium sidoides, which helps your body to fight sore throats, coughs, and a blocked or runny nose. 

Dr. Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical Director at Healthspan says, ‘Pelargonium is my go to, first-line treatment for colds, coughs, sore throat and sinusitis. I know from personal experience that it works far better than anything else I can recommend as a doctor.’

Sarah Brewer graduated as a doctor from Cambridge University. Having worked in hospitals and general practice, she gained a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She is the author of over 60 popular health books and writes widely on all aspects of health including complementary medicine. More from this expert.

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