Colds etc: are they worse after BI?: When I get a... - Headway

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Colds etc: are they worse after BI?


When I get a cold, it makes my scrambled brain even worse. I go from "barely able to work" to "totally unable", and I can't process conversations, not even on Facebook where they're written down and saved. Sore throats are the same or worse.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't like that when my brain was healthy. It's very annoying to be totally knocked out by minor illnesses which should be a small inconvenience.

Is it the same for any of you? And does anything help?

19 Replies

Hi Nightbird,

I find that a cold now always knocks my sinuses for six, consequently not able to balance plus hearing affected too.

I would say yes it certainly seems like it x


Following my TBI I became obsessed with healthy living, bought organic, vitamins etc.

Whilst the organic, isn't followed all the time, a good Multi-vitamin's still a daily routine.

Last time I had a cold, can't remember, if I suspect the first sign and friends have been ill, I'll take Echinacea long ridiculed but latest research shows an increased immune response, placebo or not it's worked for me since 2005

NightBird in reply to sealiphone

I actually tried a hypoglycaemic diet after my brain injury, and it got rid of the symptoms. But the effect didn't last. Been considering a ketogenic one lately, but I'm too disorganised to make anything stick.

Normally I'm not prone to colds and sore throats, so this winter has really knocked me back. Luckily there hasn't been much work on my plate. I might get some echinacea just in case. :)

I empathise NightBird. I used to be so casual about colds, working through the symptoms as most people do. But now, when someone sneezes in the supermarket, I flee to another isle to avoid the fall-out. The congestion plays havoc with an already 'fuzzy' and dizzy brain and, like Janet, my sinuses have been badly affected by the brain injury so, add a virus, and I'm good for nothing.

But my main fear is a gastro virus. In the past I've been confined to the bathroom floor for 2-3 days and scarily unable to hang onto my essential meds for heart & blood pressure at a time when I need them most. And calling a GP always results in 'Get yourself to A&E'.............we all know that doesn't end well.

Once upon a time, if the symptoms exceeded 24 hours, my GP would arrive with a hyperdermic and put me out of my misery with anti-sickness meds ; now of course they don't have the time..............not sure why ?

I take daily vitamins and cod-liver-oil and, so far, this year I haven't been affected, though that might be the result of staying away from everyone 😶.................not always possible for others I know. But family members DO observe the 'keep away' rule if they're hosting a virus !

NightBird in reply to cat3

GPs don't get it, do they? My GP last year obviously thought I was exaggerating when I visited her in serious pain from a sore throat after eight days. Despite the fact that they *instruct* you to visit the doctor if it lasts a week. That's one reason I'm with a new doctor now.

I'm lucky enough not to have sinus trouble. Just almost-dementia levels of fogginess, and everyone thinking "blah blah blah it's just a cold, what a complete lightweight" :D

cat3 in reply to NightBird

Lightweight ?? Pity they can't see for themselves how lightweight it feels after just a few days 😨.................

Take care of yourself m'dear. xx

nightbird glad youve come out of hibernation, how are you?

you know we er entitled to free flu jabs, ok you feel yuk for a few days afterwards, but ive felt ok for the rest of the winter.

welcome back


NightBird in reply to steve55

I'm okay (but recovering from my fourth "minor" illness this winter, which is what got me writing that post). Decided to change doctors and have another stab at getting diagnosed.

Until I have a proper brain injury diagnosis, I'm not eligible for flu jabs. "Medically unexplained symptoms" are on my record, and you get zilch for those.


steve55 in reply to NightBird

keep banging on the desks, go nuts so youre referred toa psychiatrist, explain to them youre frustrastions.

NightBird in reply to steve55

I'm trying for an ADHD diagnosis so they'll give me stimulants. I *know* they work on me, but the good ones are illegal to buy.

Honestly, I wish I could avoid all brands of psych. The psychologists gave me so much rubbish, I'm not looking forward to the psychiatrist side at all. But they're the only ones with good drugs.

steve55 in reply to NightBird

i was given the adhd diagnosis by a neuro pschiatrist, she offered me the choice of medication, but i googled it and the first thing i saw was anti depressnt,

so that was a no go i didnt read the rest.

so i get myself a new psychiatrist and he asks me what my problem is with taking this med, he listens he doesnt interrupt and then explains and shows me what it says in the bnf, which if id carried on it would have told me.

we discussed it further and i agreed i would take 37.5mg vanafalaxine or something like that once a day, problem is it makes me sleeepy so i need him to ween me off it and introduce it at nightime.

oh its also helped with my concentration, so dont be put off go for it!!!!


Yes, I’ve had a battery of tests I’m fit as a fiddle apparently but I’m quite prone to colds/infections now and they tend to fell me.

Doctors susgestion is frankly if I’m exhausted most of the time it’s not that surprising, I have noticed that as my new work place is less demanding even if it’s a awkward place to get to, that the colds I’ve had since so far I’ve been able to operate still even if sub par since I’m less tired.

My fatigue keeps me in the house 80% of the time, which I suppose has the good side effect that I don't get too many colds. But it knocks me for six, cognitively speaking, when I do get one.

I wish I'd had a cold at my last neuropsych test. Pretty sure the outcome wouldn't have been "There's nothing wrong with you, learn to meditate" if that had been the case :)

My brain goes too mush, always get a headache with a cold! I feel dizzy and cognitively slow for an age after

Yes is the simple answer. I usually try and carry on, but they can floor me and I am better giving in. I get muzzy headed and ji' s hard to concentrate. Same if I get very tired xxx

Hello, NightBird

Despite my 'enforced isolation' recently, I do still manage to pick up colds and other bugs, I'm prone to tonsillitis, as well, which is an absolute delight when I leave it too long, and it spreads to my ears.

The element I struggle with the most is that 'catching it early' that I used to be able to do. I'm generally vaguely-unwell most of the time, my entire life, since the BI, has been reminiscent of that weird-vague period just before you come down with a bug. You 'know' something isn't quite right, but, until you connect-the-dots when you start coughing, or come out in a rash, you can't quite put your finger on it? That's what 'gets' me, before the brain-visitors, I'd instinctively know whether I needed paracetamol for fever, ibuprofen for inflammation, or Tyrozett lozenges to ward off a throat infection, now, with the post-BI array of side-symptoms, I don't notice I'm unwell until I'm really unwell, so the virus-or-whatever already has a hold of me before I take any action. (This, coming from a person who had about a week of sick leave in the 10 prior to the BI, AND worked with kids, who are notorious sharers-of-germs.)

That's what I put my longer recovery time, and more severe symptoms down to, that I'm usually already quite advanced into the cold/lurgy before I take any restorative action?

That's exactly it. I'm vaguely "a bit ill" all the time and my symptoms fluctuate, so the signals of real illness go unnoticed. It's pointless to go on high alert for everything.

I have a half-decent stash of painkillers (including Paramol, the best over-the-counter stuff you can get here). But nothing seems to sort out the brain fog.

I do try not to generalise and assume that everyone has the same side-issues as I do, but I think the 'boiling a frog' analogy probably broadly fits a lot of us, I know that I, personally live in that vague 'pre-flu' state all of the time, I've normalised feeling not-quite-right.

High alert for everything would be pointless, because there's always something niggling, I know when I first came out of hospital after the haemorrhage, I'd do an obsessive toe-to-top check every morning, to see which parts of me felt co-operative, and which were likely to cause issues. We can't live in the "Oh no, what's THAT?" state, or we'd never get back out of bed. (I also employed a bad strategy, in not telling people if there was something extra-wrong, I didn't want to worry/upset my son and ex, and the women in the office I worked with were a tad on the neurotic side, if I mentioned a headache, they'd panic, and want to send me home, or call an ambulance. There's always a headache, I just don't mention it.)

I appear to be stocked up for the apocalypse in terms of medication, I have a kitchen drawer full of paracetamol, ibuprofen, and my 'emergency' co-codamol, for those 'special' days in the month, where my mutinous uterus becomes jealous of my head acting like a cement-mixer, and decides to join in. (That drawer worried my son, when he was back from uni- "Do you NEED all that, mother, please don't buy any more this week!" I have systems in place to prevent accidental OD, even when I'm at my foggiest.)

I haven't found a magical mixture of anything that will lift my fog, either, my brain has generally done a full day's 'work' by lunchtime. (Un-injured people don't 'get' that when you have to THINK about not-falling-over, instead of not-falling-over being a subconscious competence thing that just happens in the background, not-falling-over actually takes energy.) I know I'm physically exhausted by late afternoon/early evening, but it took my son to point out that I was cognitively flagging every single day. (Again, boiling a frog, I was slowing-to-standstill, and not really noticing it, because I'd adapted my practices to make sure that anything which needed doing was done early in the day.)

We keep plugging away at it, it's what we do.


Yes, if I'm feeling very fatigued there's a good chance I'll have a soar throat or runny nose or the like the next day. A minor infection now has much larger consequences.

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