Ddifferences between colds in adults and children
August 28, 2009 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Are there differences in the symptoms of a common cold with age? Are cold symptoms worse in adults than children?

When I was a kid, the extent of my colds seemed to be a runny nose and maybe a cough. Nowadays, at 29, colds seem to completely sap my energy and give me body aches. I live in the same location, so I should be exposed to the same general cold virii. Are tiredness and body aches just more common in adults than children?
posted by graventy to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Your body does change with age its response to the common cold. For example, even a slight fever in a senior citizen is cause for alarm. This is because, at their age, their body is unable to mount much of a response, so something that gets even a small fever is probably a big issue.
posted by sbutler at 9:41 PM on August 28, 2009

Symptoms vary not just with age per se, but with exposure those of a certain age and location have had to previous disease. I read today that the H1N1 flu is predicted to affect healthy adults around the age of 40. I asked a doctor friend why that should be, and he said that whereas children may have more natural immunity, older people may have encountered an earlier outbreak of a similar flu strain and thereby become resistant. So the swine flu hits those in the middle.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:58 PM on August 28, 2009

Are cold symptoms worse in adults than children?

My experience has been the opposite - when I was a kid, colds would last for two weeks, but for the last ten years, they've been much milder and typically lasted three days. I'm 35.
posted by martinrebas at 11:48 PM on August 28, 2009

I am not an immunologist, but I suspect the lower severity colds you experience as a child grant you immunity from similar mild strains in adulthood. So, the more severe colds are the only ones that can survive your immune system.
posted by Jilder at 1:20 AM on August 29, 2009

This doesn't really answer your question but zinc (1/2 tablet 25mg) really has helped me get over colds much faster as I've gotten older. I've turned a couple of friends into believers about the zinc thing so you might try it the next time you have a cold.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:36 AM on August 29, 2009

Perhaps when you had a cold as a child, you rested and were fed. As an adult, you don't get the same rest and you don't get enough fluids and food and therefore don't recover as quickly.

Or you are getting different colds.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:32 AM on August 30, 2009

My experience has also been the opposite (my grown-up colds are much less worse than my childhood ones were).

Macrolocation might be the same, but your microenvironment has probably changed (unless you're a teacher). Maybe you're picking up more viruses from your workplace than you did at school - do you deal with a lot of people, handle money, etc.?

(Also, you should probably check with your GP.)
posted by The Toad at 7:53 AM on September 2, 2009

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