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Catching lurgies from your children: is it inevitable?

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Being a parent is one of life's great joys, but as many people will know, the various lurgies and sickness bugs that come with it are not quite as fun.

All parents know the drill. Your youngster trots home and remarks upon six of his or her classmates being sent home with a nasty sickness bug. Before you know it, he or she is looking a little pale in the face and going to bed with significantly more haste than is normal.

If you’ve got toddlers you’re at the very beginning of this process. If your kids are eighteen, you’ve been through it all. Sneezing, snotty noses, head lice, the Nora virus, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, even chicken pox or scarlet fever. You name it, if you’ve got kids you’ve either had it or you’re going to have it.   

A recent study by Healthspan of parents with children up to eighteen years has revealed that two thirds of people think they are more prone to falling ill since having children.

On what lurgies they’d caught off of their kids, parents from Healthspan’s survey said a runny or stuffy was most common, followed by a cold. Flu and sickness bugs also featured high up on the list.

Six years ago, Bupa discovered that half of Britain’s parents send their children to school when they are unwell, and a fifth do so when their children have a contagious illness[i]. Avoiding nurseries and schools is impossible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for the germs that come with them.

What can I do to avoid catching my children’s bugs?

There’s two answers for this, prevention and cure.

Dr. Hilary, a spokesman for Healthspan says, ‘The hard and fast rules are prevention at this time of year, when cold viruses and other bugs are flying around. My best tips for parents is to teach children to regularly wash their hands, and to ensure the whole family is taking a vitamin D supplement to support their immunity. It’s also a good idea to have pelargonium in your cupboard, ready to treat cold symptoms as early as possible if they strike.’

A significant number of illnesses are inevitable and the occasional cold is part of everyday life. But fortunately, long-lasting, ancient human instinct means parents are absolute troopers. Healthspan’s study shows 59% of parents’ battle on regardless of how they feel when under the weather.

There is, however, substantial evidence backing up vitamin D’s contribution to a healthy immune system. The recommended Government intake of a supplement of 10mcg a day will have both you and your offspring covered.

But what about Pelargonium?

We know Dr. Hilary suggests it, but so does Dr. Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical Director at Healthspan:-

‘Pelargonium is my go-to, first-line treatment for colds, coughs, sore throat, bronchitis, laryngitis and sinusitis. I know from personal experience that it works far better than anything else I can recommend as a doctor.’

Prevention is ideal, but as the majority who have had to nurse their offspring back to health will know, some bugs are simply unstoppable. Take Dr. Hilary’s advice and have Pelargonium in your cupboard, on standby and ready for the next time your little one reports a school-wide spread of the latest winter cold.


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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