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Why are childhood diseases often more serious when an adult gets them?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This question was also posted in the "Vaccinating on Schedule" forum, and I think it's  a really, really good question. Since we are not permitted to post there, I thought I'd repost the question here, because I'm curious about this, myself.

 

If adult immune systems are generally stronger and more robust than a child's, why would childhood diseases like chickenpox, measles, or mumps be more dangerous in adulthood?

post #2 of 9

Off the cuff: could it be that these diseases play an important role in the development of a child's immune system and they have no place in adult life?

 

Measles has been shown, for example, to provide remission of psoriasis, less allergies, improvement in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and epilepitic seizures.

 

Mumps protects against ovarian cancer.

 

Another thought: are adults treated inappropriately when they contract these diseases or perhaps they might be immune compromised and/or more likely to be on prescription drugs, that weaken the body's healing mechanisms?

 

Quote:

"Father dies after catching chickenpox from his sons....the inquest heard he was susceptible to the illness after being put on a high dose of steroids to treat kidney problems."--(Daily Express Sept 9, 2000)

 

 

As a young adult, I remember a male friend getting mumps, he was uncomfortable but recovered. My ex's sister and her DH came down with chickenpox when their two young children got it, they were uncomfortable but got through well enough (they were actually a source of jokes from my ex). 

post #3 of 9

Just off the top of my head...adults also tend to have more chronic disease that already tips the scales a bit. This may not come into play with 20-somethings, but get into the 40s and 50s, and you have diabetics, people with heart disease/HBP, autoimmune disease (one of my friends was recently diagnosed with RA at 40). Some ethnic communities do have high rates of Type II diabetes (and associated complications) even in 20 year olds. Add in less than optimal diet, and being generally unwell/sleep deprived/ whatever (think about all the adults who are overstressed/running on caffeine/put their own health last) and it's not great.

 

The only experience I know of with an adult and VAD is a 24 year old friend with CP. It was pretty rough for her and she almost ended up hospitalized. She said she was exposed multiple times as a child, but never came down with it.

post #4 of 9

Humans have evolved to handle many typical childhood disease in childhood - I ususpect it is a continuation of the species type thing.  

 

Vaccine mess with that.  While they *may* reduce disease prevalence in some instances, if it shifts the burden of disease off children and onto infants and adults, it is not so great, as those demographics are not equipped to handle it as well as children.

 

One thing people worry about when they get a typical childhood disease is pneumonia. One of the risk factors for pneumonia is smoking - something kids do not do.  This study is small, but it did show smoking was correlated to pneumonia in adults who got CP:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1745928/

 

Lastly, I kind of wonder if some adults just whine more when they get sick :duckwith some diseases.  Their tolerance for being itchy, miserable and out of work is not so great. OTOH, we expect kids who get CP to be itchy, miserable and off school.  

post #5 of 9

Just branching off from the evolution to handle typical childhood disease in childhood, I think that immune system response (children vs. adults) definitely comes into play. Completely anecdotal, but we had a viral illness go through here about six weeks ago. The kids had it (although both fared much better than I did). I underwent blood work (10 days into it) just in case it was one of the mosquito-borne viral illnesses here that can be quite serious (it wasn't). We didn't conclusively diagnose what it was (and now that we've all recovered, it's a moot point really) but whatever the infection was, it hammered my WBC and platelet count to such an extent the GP called me back in to discuss it and do follow up b/w after the head haematologist for the pathology lab urged her to monitor it. I had only 40% of the acceptable minimum amount of WBCs and platelets left. I also ended up with post-viral arthritis that lasted two weeks. Meanwhile, the kids were fully recovered and bouncing around the house. No excruciating joint pain during the acute phase of the illness like I had, no post-viral arthritis, no significant side-effects at all. 


Edited by japonica - 10/13/13 at 10:29pm
post #6 of 9

This isn't going to be deep but I think it comes down to stress.

When kids are sick, they are taken care of, loved on, miss school and tried to put less pressure on them and they can even play.

We think of all the good food we can give them and even vitamins etc.

 

What do we adults do? Stress!!!!!

When can we get back to work/ how am I going to take care of the kids....

Or we go into work sick or still take care of kids anyhow....

Do we REALLY have anyone taking care of Us when we get sick? Like we take care of kids?

Do we play and try to relax?

 

Do we try to eat the best food and take good vitamins?

 

Do we realize how much stress effects us!!!

post #7 of 9

I put my vote in for stress combined with the whine...for men anyways:2whistle .  DH is SUCH a baby when he's sick. Last winter he brought home a few colds, and while DD and I were over it in under a week, he was still complaining by week 2.  He does rest (oh he's waited on hand and foot, really, he's a baby) and I force feed him whatever supplements, but his diet is horrid no matter what and he's constantly stressing.  Meanwhile, I could be going on 2 hours sleep with fully blocked sinuses and I still fare better!  But for kids, it's so easy to tell them to veg out since it's kind of natural anyways...it's not til we're adults that we feel the pressure to keep going.  Just think of all the drug commercials for things like Dayquil and how they make it look so easy to just take a pill and get on with your life.  They completely skip over the need for rest and staying home so as not to spread it along which is probably a huge factor in why we see *outbreaks* of these diseases to begin with - no one knows to listen to their body anymore and just stay home for the sake of everyone.

post #8 of 9

"They completely skip over the need for rest and staying home so as not to spread it along which is probably a huge factor in why we see *outbreaks* of these diseases to begin with - no one knows to listen to their body anymore and just stay home for the sake of everyone."  

This grabbed my attention because I always hear from those who are pro vaccine that getting a vaccine is our "civic duty to each other so we can protect each other". Ok well then why in the heck don't you (mr. pro vaxer) stay home when you get sick and why dont you keep your kids home and away from others when they are sick? My husband works in fast food and it blows my mind how many people go to work sick because they HAVE to. Luckily our family hasnt gotten horribly sick from him bringing home colds but it makes me wonder how many people will get sick simply because Johnny the cook has a cold and cant afford to or will get fired if he stays home. Yet we should all get the flu shot to protect us from getting sick. uh NO we need more paid sick time we can actually take to get better.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by 20ACE13 View Post
 

"They completely skip over the need for rest and staying home so as not to spread it along which is probably a huge factor in why we see *outbreaks* of these diseases to begin with - no one knows to listen to their body anymore and just stay home for the sake of everyone."  

This grabbed my attention because I always hear from those who are pro vaccine that getting a vaccine is our "civic duty to each other so we can protect each other". Ok well then why in the heck don't you (mr. pro vaxer) stay home when you get sick and why dont you keep your kids home and away from others when they are sick? My husband works in fast food and it blows my mind how many people go to work sick because they HAVE to. Luckily our family hasnt gotten horribly sick from him bringing home colds but it makes me wonder how many people will get sick simply because Johnny the cook has a cold and cant afford to or will get fired if he stays home. Yet we should all get the flu shot to protect us from getting sick. uh NO we need more paid sick time we can actually take to get better.


Nailed it right on the spot. AMEN

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