Cold and flu season has arrived.

For parents of school-aged children – particularly families with multiple kids – that frequently means a lot of revolving sniffles, sneezes, coughs, and fevers throughout the fall and winter months.

What is sometimes interesting, however, is that when viruses start to circulate in a home, many family members appear to come down with the illness, while others – not so much.

“One parent will be at home, miserable, and the other parent brings their child to see the doctor,” says Dr. Keyvan Rafei, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Culex Wellness. “They say, ‘Everyone in the family is sick, but I somehow escaped it.’”

The reality, he says, is not that the individual didn’t catch the bug, it’s that their symptoms are simply different – and milder – than the rest of the family.

For the unfortunate family members who are buying stock in Kleenex, their bodies have responded to the illness with more inflammation. “Deeper cough, more fever, more body aches, and more miserableness,” Dr. Rafei says.

“We feel like one side of the family caught the bug and the other didn’t, but everybody catches the bug the same,” Dr. Rafei continues. “It’s how they manifest the bug that’s completely different.”

Current scientific discoveries, however, have revealed that there is much more to illness than the infection we catch.

Today, we understand the symptoms we associate with infection are the product of not only the bugs we catch but also the way our bodies react to them.  This inflammation, in large part, is responsible for the symptoms that make us miserable.

Some individuals’ natural defense response overreacts – causing them to appear sick more often, and prompting frustrated parental complaints from

“He catches everything” to “how many viruses can there be?”

Higher levels of inflammation are caused by a combination of genetics, environmental exposures, and our gut microbiome – the bacteria that live inside each and every one of us.

Knowing what we do now about atopy, we can see the reason atopic children are more frequently diagnosed with illnesses ranging from sinus infections to chickenpox is that they manifest symptoms with greater intensity. Children without atopy likely endure the same infection, but because their symptoms were mild – or even imperceptible – they were never formally diagnosed.

At Culex Wellness, our team approaches healthcare as an ongoing conversation. We track changing conditions that may trigger health issues so we can intervene as soon as the sniffles start.

By getting to know each patient and their family – in addition to the many environmental and social factors influencing their health – we can better understand and improve their unique health journey.

Interested in learning more? Schedule an initial consultation today.