Kids With Cold Infection Make Adults With Lung Disease Sicker
September 27, 2012

Exposure To Kids With Colds Makes Sick Adults Even Sicker

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

A study from the University of Rochester Medical Center recently revealed that individuals with illnesses like lung disease recuperate better when kept away from young children with colds. Patients who are exposed to young children with stuffy noses have a greater risk of developing symptoms like cough, runny nose, or sore throat.

The recommendation to steer clear of sick children was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Virology.

The scientists culled evidence from a databank of 1,000 samples of nasal and sputum secretions from individuals who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A total of 127 individuals who had emphysema were part of the study. Researchers evaluated these people six different times over a one-year period.

“Before we conducted this study, I would have expected other factors, perhaps the severity of underlying disease — the state of the patient´s general health — to indicate who would actually suffer symptoms from their colds,” explained Dr. Ann Falsey, a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester as well as an expert on infectious diseases at Rochester General Hospital, in a prepared statement.

“Instead, contact with school-age children is the only risk factor we found, and it increases both the risk of infection and also the risk of suffering symptoms once you´ve caught a cold.”

Past studies have also examined the affects of children with colds on those around them. The findings from the new study highlight how the course of infection is worse for those who are exposed to kids with colds. Roughly one-third of individuals may not even be aware that they have been infected with a rhinovirus, a bug that is linked to the cold but doesn´t necessarily display any symptoms.

Researchers believe that colds may be more difficult for kids to shake because they have a weaker immune system that hasn´t had as much time as an adult´s to build defense mechanisms against the various forms of rhinovirus. Children´s colds, therefore, tend to be more difficult to manage, often resulting in nasal secretions and other symptoms.

“We know that kids shed more virus longer when they get a cold,” noted Falsey in the statement. “It may be that your chance of developing cold symptoms is related to the amount of virus you´re exposed to, and if you´re around small children, you´re exposed to more virus. The idea makes sense, but it´s speculation at this point.”

The scientists offered a number of recommendations for people to decrease their risk during exposure to a child with a cold. They believe that it is important to remember to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands and covering the mouth when coughing. It´s also a good idea to limit touching of the eyes and the nose.

“We all know that children are efficient germ-spreading vectors,” continued Falsey in the statement, “and we know that young children oftentimes don´t have ideal hygiene habits. It´s not unusual for them to accidentally sneeze in your face, for instance. If you have a grandchild who is sick, it may simply be smart to plan a visit for another day.”