The average mum will fall ill 324 times over their youngster’s childhood - with colds and bugs passed on to them by their offspring, a study has found.
An endless cycle of sore throats, runny noses, migraines and sickness bugs means the average mum will be left feeling under the weather 18 times a year.
The study of 2,000 parents, found that over the 18 years of their youngster’s childhood, mums will suffer from 54 colds, as well as a total of 108 sore throats or runny noses. There will also be 36 sickness bugs – two every year - and an annual bout of flu.
On top of that, they can also expect to endure one bout of headlice a year after the critters come home from school on their children’s hair.
And eight in 10 of those polled, by supplements firm Healthspan, say the germs and bugs can usually be traced back to the kids, leaving them suffering days after nursing their children back to health.
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Medicial Director at Healthspan said: “Mums are often on the front line when it comes to the family’s illnesses and, due to time pressures and putting others first, are often poor at looking after themselves.
“Prevention is key and it’s important for mums to look after themselves by boosting their immunity to help prevent common illnesses as much as possible, and to shrug off respiratory infections quickly with go-to products they can trust to banish colds, such as Healthspan Pelargonium – a traditional herbal medicine that will tackle a cold in 24 hours.”
Sixty-eight per cent of mums said they had been more prone to falling ill since having children, with 39 per cent saying they now constantly feel under the weather in some way. In fact, the average mum has just 13 days a month where they feel completely fit and healthy.
The study also found one in three parents fell ill over the Christmas period, with a cold, sore throat, runny nose or sickness bug and sixty-four per cent of those even went as far as to say it ruined their Christmas, with 65 per cent of people saying they often tend to fall ill once they switch off a little or take a break from work.
It also emerged 70 per cent of mums have fallen ill when they have gone on holiday, switched off a little or had some time off work, with 71 per cent of those saying that time has been ruined as a result.
Dr Sarah Brewer said “Stress has a negative effect on immunity, especially when you start to relax at the end of a stressful period. Known as the ‘let down effect’, getting sick at the end of a period of stress is linked with a drop in cortisol levels. The body switches from the ‘fight or flight’ reaction to a ‘rest and digest’ response and the high level of immune vigilence is relaxed. This is why you experience a flare-up of existing conditions such as migraine or cold sores, and increased susceptibility to cold viruses.”
Women will soldier on when they are ill. But 84 per cent of mums feel they are unable to sit back and relax when they are ill, instead having to battle on through, compared to just seven in 10 dads.
And 72 per cent of women reckon they cope better than their partner when they are ill.
And 36 per cent of mums said they have to soldier on when they have caught the lurgy themselves, meaning many have little or no time to be ill whereas over a quarter said that men would switch off when ill.
Dr Meg Arroll, Psychologist 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.”
Fifty-seven per cent of parents have even ended up arguing with their other half because one of them battles on when they are ill while the other needs to stop and be looked after – having this row nine times a year.
Dr Sarah Brewer added: “The hard and fast rules are prevention at this time of year when cold viruses and other bugs are flying around. My best tip 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.”
Top Tips to help prevent a cold
Reduce your stress levels
Don’t let yourself get over tired
Take regular exercise to stay fit
Avoid cigarette smoke and smoky atmospheres
Eat a healthy, wholefood diet containing at least five servings of nutrient-rich fresh fruit and vegetables
Avoid people during the early stages of a cold, especially when they are coughing and sneezing.
Drink green tea – its antioxidants seem to help protect against viral infections
Put a few drops of peppermint or tea tree essential oils in a diffuser to scent a room and help keep coughs and colds at bay.
Think positively – studies show that a positive attitude can boost immunity and reduce your risk of infections.
Laugh your symptoms away – those who laugh regularly seem to be healthier over all, and have less infections than those eaten up with anger and hostility.
Mums’ illnesses per year
Sore throats – 3
Runny stuffed nose – 3
Cold – 3
Flu – 1
Sickness bug – 2
Rash/skin complaint – 2
Migraine – 3
Conjunctivitis – 1
Total – 18