The Pros And Cons Of Not Getting Sick in 2020
As I write this, it is 12/28/2020, meaning there 4 days left in this year. As I looked back on this year, I realized that neither my partner nor I were sick this year. Due to COVID-19, we barely saw anyone outside of our household, avoided public gatherings, and were very on top of handwashing. Normally we get a common cold or some type of sore throat once a year, but due to all of these precautions, it makes sense that we never got sick with these things. At first, I was impressed and happy by this, but after thinking about it, I realized that there are both pros and cons to it.
The pros and cons
There are definitely some clear positives to not getting sick this year!
- No asthma exacerbations - My partner has asthma, and anytime he gets a common cold or sore throat, it causes his asthma to flare up. When I get sick, I'm normally fine in about a week. However, if my partner gets sick, he is normally sick for double the amount of time. He has to take his inhaler frequently throughout the day and be careful that he is not exposed to his other triggers.
- Not dealing with sickness symptoms - The only good part about being sick is the excuse to watch more Netflix than normal. Other than that, it really sucks. Not having to deal with any type of sickness this year meant we were never bedridden, and we never had to deal with sniffles, snot, fevers, or sore throats.
- No time off of work or other activities - Both my partner and I are very active and productive people, but getting sick really takes us out. Since we were not sick this year, we did not have to take any time off from our regular lives.
I know it seems strange to have cons for not getting sick this year, but hear me out. These cons are not necessarily the downside of not being sick (confusing sentence, I know), but the cons of our efforts to not getting sick.
- Less of a social life and less family time - As I previously mentioned, one of the main reasons we did not get sick this year was because we did not spend much time with friends and family. Because we were so strict with not being around other people, we barely had a social life with our beloved friends. We both saw our families less than usual due to the circumstances, which was upsetting for both of us. Essentially, we traded in not getting sick for less social time with loved ones.
- A lowered immune system from other stressors - The downside to making such a big effort to not get COVID-19 and other viruses resulted in some new factors that actually lead to a lowered immune system. Spending more time indoors (which has been inevitable due to stay-at-home orders) can lead to lower levels of Vitamin D, which is an important vitamin for our immune systems.1 2020 was certainly a stressful year, and stress, loneliness, and depression can all actually lower the immune system.2
And a myth...
Before I wrote this article, I had held a particular misconception about immune systems. I was going to actually to add this under the list of "cons", but from my research, I found out it was not true.
- Getting sick is actually good for your immune system - There has been a rumor floating around that due to social distancing, we are not being exposed to germs and viruses as much as we normally do, and this is causing our immune systems to become weaker. This concept is only really true for young children who have not had time to build up their immune systems. As adults, we have had years and years to build up our immune systems to viruses like the flu, fevers, colds, and coughs. Not getting sick this year does not mean we weakened our immune system.3
Not getting sick this year was great for my partner's asthma, and he did not have to deal with the terrible asthma flare-ups that are brought on by sickness! We never had to stay in bed all day or deal with the symptoms that come from being sick. However, since we made such an effort to not get sick this year, we had to sacrifice other things in our life. We spent very little time with family and friends this year, and we certainly experienced some stress and loneliness. In turn, spending more time indoors and experiencing these feelings may have actually caused our immune systems to weaken.
Have asthma inhalers affected your dental health?