Understanding How Colds Are Spread Among Children


Group of Young Students Running to Class

Other than a juicy secret, there aren’t many things that spread quicker than the common cold. This is true among individuals of any age, but especially among children whose immune systems haven’t fully developed. It is important for parents to understand how colds spread and what they can do to prevent spreading viruses from making their children sick.

Here is some information about where cold viruses live, activities that cause colds to spread, and certain environments that put kids at risk.

Where Cold Viruses Live

In the human body, cold viruses live in the nose and throat because this is an easy entry point for them and a viable opportunity where they can thrive. Many types of viruses require a warm, moist environment to grow and spread.

However, these viruses are easily spread to the hands when touching the nose and mouth and can even become airborne through coughing and sneezing. This is why children must be taught to wash their hands and cover their mouths and noses when sick to avoid sending viruses through the air for someone else to catch.

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Activities That Spread Cold Viruses

There are many different things that kids unknowingly do on a regular basis that promote the spread of cold viruses. This includes picking the nose, putting fingers in the mouth, and rubbing the eyes – all common habits among young children. By simply touching the nose, mouth, and eyes, it is possible to transfer germs from the nose and mount to the hands, potentially later spreading them to another child.

When kids play with each other at daycare, on play dates, or just within the family, it is very easy to pass viruses back and forth between children. This often happens when one child plays with a toy and then touches the nose or mouth before leaving the toy behind for another child to play with. Even after playtime is over, everyday objects, like doorknobs, electronic devices, and towels, can harbor viruses that can be passed onto a child that touches them. Viruses commonly linger on surfaces for several days after being contaminated. Indoor surfaces can actually allow viruses to survive for a week or longer. Stainless steel and plastic products generally allow viruses to survive for longer than porous materials like fabric.

Environments that Put Kids at Risk

Certain environments can put kids more at risk of spreading viruses they have or catching a virus from another child. This includes any crowded place where other children are present, such as the babysitter’s house, church playroom, park jungle gym, or play facility’s ball pit. Amusement parks and other play place activity rooms are often full of germs that can be spread by touching handlebars and equipment. This is especially true in indoor environments where viruses aren’t exposed to natural air and sunlight.

However, it is still important to let kids be kids and not restrict their activities too much for fear of germs and viruses. Although each cold that a child suffers may feel excruciating, the immune system is slowly building itself up with each virus that it fights and overcomes. With proper supervision and training, parents can teach their children how to prevent the spread of viruses with good hygiene and a heightened awareness of their surroundings.

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