Everybody knows that, in addition to their many other positive qualities, children are walking talking superhero academies for germs. A typical, run of the mill cold enter’s a child’s system and comes out ten times stronger and able to fell even the heartiest of adults. This is particularly true for the illnesses we tend to associate with childhood. Pink eye, chicken pox, diaper rash, strep throat, ringworm–these illnesses are less common in adults, sure, but when they hit? They hit big.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that germs and viruses do not tend to discriminate against the age of the host they are invading. All they want is a warm, wet environment in which to feed and multiply. The second is that, because we think of these illnesses as risks we can “grow out of” we stop diligently protecting ourselves against them. And because we contract them less often, our bodies lose their ability to fight back as mightily as they did when we were young.
Sore throats are incredibly common no matter how old you are. They can be caused by all sorts of things–many of which have nothing to do with illness. Still, sore throats can be a sign of something more sinister, like strep throat. Strep throat is an incredibly contagious and sensitive illness. Many adults exacerbate the condition before they even realize something is wrong. So how do you know when a sore throat is no big deal and when it’s a sign that you need to see a doctor? According to the experts at PlushCare, the biggest sign of strep throat in adults is a fever. If your throat hurts and you’re running even a slight fever, it’s time to see a doctor. Don’t put this off. It doesn’t take much to turn mild strep throat into a raging infection–and one that you can spread to every person with whom you come into contact!
Pink eye (also called “conjunctivitis”) is very common among kids and adults because their immune systems are weaker than those of the average adult. This doesn’t mean that adults are immune, though! The bacteria that cause pink eye are hardy little buggers and they don’t mess around. The good news is that, for many adults, pink eye is bacterial in nature and not viral. It can be treated with cold compresses, resting the eyes, removing triggers, etc. Viral pink eye, though, is just something you have to wait out (this is the form most childhood cases take).
Another highly contagious virus, chickenpox is stealthy: it is at it’s most contagious a couple of days before the visual symptoms appear. Unlike many conditions that lessen in severity as we age, chickenpox gets worse. For kids, chicken pox is annoying, sure, but usually passes in about a week. In adults, however, the virus seems to be turbo powered. In the elderly, chicken pox is called shingles and is very hard on the person dealing with it. Thankfully, now there is a chickenpox vaccine! If you were one of the lucky kids who managed to escape childhood without contracting the virus, you should talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. Heck, even if you had it as a child, you should talk to your doctor about vaccination as a measure to prevent shingles and other conditions later on.
Ringworm is embarrassing no matter how old you are when you contract it. Ringworm can often masquerade as athlete’s foot but unlike athlete’s foot, it shows up on other areas of the body. The raised red spots are embarrassing but, thankfully, they are easily treated. What makes ringworm and other fungal infections annoying is that most of them are the result of a fungus that naturally lives within our bodies. The trick is to keep that fungus in check and not give it “food” to help it grow.
Childhood diseases can and do affect adults. These are some of the most common. The good news is that most of them are relatively easy to treat and prevent. Use the information contained here to help you do just that!