Why is everyone around me always falling sick?

If the soundtrack of your life seems to be a symphony of coughs and sneezes, you’re not alone. Whether at work or home, the chorus of scratchy throats and runny noses is hard to escape these days. 

No matter how diligently you and your family members wash your hands, the inevitable happens – germs get passed around, and it feels like one illness is barely over before one another hits.

Whether or not you have kids, it might feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of sickness, especially this time of year. Post-pandemic, it may seem like you and your family are getting sick more frequently, and when you do catch a cold, it lingers longer.

Virus overload  

It’s partly due to the simple math of adding COVID-19 to the mix of infectious diseases already circulating during every virus season. Beyond the flu and R.S.V., there are over 200 viruses causing cold-like symptoms. Although these viruses haven’t necessarily become more severe, our bodies might be finding it more challenging to fight them off.

The precautions we took during the early days of the pandemic, aimed at reducing COVID-19 transmission, inadvertently slowed the spread of other viruses as well. As people started ditching masks and mingling more, exposure to various illnesses increased.

Last year, we faced a tripledemic with the flu, R.S.V., and COVID all surging simultaneously. Strep throat cases rose, and rotavirus, causing fevers and vomiting, made a comeback along with the usual colds.

The immunity question

Unfortunately, immunity to many of these viruses is short-lived. This immunity debt means our bodies must catch up, relearning how to create antibodies against specific viruses to experience milder symptoms upon exposure. Increased awareness of illness, a consequence of the COVID era, also contributes to the feeling that we’re sick more often. Symptoms that were previously shrugged off are now treated with more significance.

While it may seem like we’re sick for longer, respiratory infections have always taken time to resolve. A 2013 review of common respiratory infections in children found it takes 15 days to clear a common cold and up to 25 days for a cough to subside in most cases.

In conclusion

Despite the challenges, there are steps to reduce infections. Being vaccinated against R.S.V., staying up-to-date on flu and COVID shots, and applying pandemic lessons like staying home when sick and wearing masks in high-risk areas (like airplanes or hospitals) are useful steps.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

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