Having Children Makes You Ill

I’ve got a growing list of things they should tell you before having children, but don’t. One of my first was that babies can’t blow their nose, so you need to use one of these to clear it. However this past six months I’ve got a new one, having children makes you ill.

It’s not literally that they directly make you ill, it’s just that especially once they start mixing with other children at daycare or toddler groups they start picking up all sorts of germs and nasties, and unlike adults who know to turn away when they cough, or to wash their hands, your children don’t, so they’ll happily cough in your face, sneeze all over you all sorts.

I’ve basically been ill with one thing or another since the beginning of February this year. It started with a bout of norovirus, not a surprise as one of the winter vomiting bugs had been circulating around the local community in the weeks before. I was fairly lucky in that I only got the explosive diarrhoea. As anyone who has had it will tell you although it only lasts a few days it does leave you feeling a bit run down, so it was not a massive surprise when a few days later I went down with a cold. However that rapidly transformed into one of the worst bouts of tonsillitis I’ve had, complete with barely being able to swallow and massively swollen tonsils turning almost totally white at one point. This was also accompanied by the start of a post-nasal drip that has been my constant companion ever since.

On the second visit to the GP I was put on some basic antibiotics which seemed to kick the symptoms whilst I was taking them, but they came back once the antibiotics were done. I also started getting morning nausea at this point, probably due to the post-nasal drip. Over a number of following weeks the GP decided I had a sinus infection and prescribed stronger antibiotics, again these seemed to work fine when I was taking them, but once I was off them again the symptoms returned, however the repeated antibiotics produced another delightful side effect in that they further weakened my immune system so I ended up going down with another bout of norovirus, but a lot worse. When it hit I had the full blown simultaneous projectile vomiting with explosive diarrhoea – not that I remember it as I actually passed out in the bathroom, and ended up pretty well totally wiped out for two days, that led to some symptoms that started to look like some sort of post viral fatigue syndrome, along with the ever present post-nasal drip. However from there we also had the beginnings of what has been one of the worst hay fever seasons for many years so my cold symptoms just metamorphosed into hay fever.

By this point the GP was concerned enough to take blood tests and refer me to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist for an endoscopy, just to make sure nothing was amiss. The consultant commented that although my tonsils and nasal tubes appeared swollen, there was nothing significant actually wrong, similarly the blood tests came back normal. The advice then from the GP was just to try and keep healthy, so ensure I was eating properly, taking regular exercise and so on, which is largely what I’ve been doing, alongside following various bits of advice for dealing with recurrent sinus infections, allergies and generally living healthily.

I’ll talk about my experiences with those, and in particular what I’ve found that works and what doesn’t in subsequent posts.

Having said all of that, what I have discovered is that whilst I may have been hit hard with the particular combination of illnesses I’ve had, I’m not alone. One friend said that her husband, who at the time their second child was born was travelling a lot on business had tonsillitis pretty well for two years after their second child was born – the combination of the hammering your immune system takes on repeated long haul plane journeys combined with the children, but the vast majority of them have to a greater or lesser effect experienced periods where they appear to be continually getting ill.

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