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RA symptoms with cold/flu?

So I had an ordinary mild cold. On day 2 my nose/sinuses got so congested I was struggling to breathe and speak. Pharmacy meds made no difference so they advised me to get an urgent appointment. Turns out I had both sinus infection and chest infection! Quick development! My joints have been even more painful and spongey feeling. Question is - do RA or meds (hydroxychloroquine) make a cold develop in this way? And do your joints flare with a cold?

I've had a compromised immune system in the past, with chemo. But then I was given lots of care and warning. But then, aren't I meant to have an overactive immune system??

4 Replies

It's a balance ! The docs take your immunity down with drugs so your body is t attacking itself, but they do your blood tests to make sure your levels don't go too low as you do need some immunity.

I found that I'm more prone though to chest/ sinus infections. I move away if someone's coughing and ask friends to tell me if they have cold , so I usually ask them not to visit!! I use hand gel all winter as it's easy to get the viruses on hard surfaces and wash my hands regularly . I also get my flu jab for extra protection. but if you keep getting the infections best to chat to docs as they changed my meds when it happened to me on a regular basis and I was much better on the next drug .

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hi PollyMolly,

Sorry you are feeling unwell at the moment, hope you feel better soon.

DMARDs (of which hydroxychloroquine is one) are a group of drugs which have been shown to have an effect on the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by damping down over-activity of the immune system.

Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to damp down the immune system in a non-specific way although it is the mildest of the DMARDs.

So the DMARDs are there to act on the over-active immune system.

Flu like symptoms can occur with RA:

You may be experiencing a flare in your condition because of your infection.

Hope this helps PollyMolly

best wishes

Beverley (NRAS Helpline)

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Thanks Allanah and Beverley. I think I'm odd as my white blood count was/is low before I started the meds. That's why I can't take stronger DMARDs.

I want them to find out why my wbc was low (a small part of me is worried it's something really bad...).

I have flu-like symptoms as part of my RA/FM. But being ill is making my joints really really sore, horrible flare. The antibiotics are starting to work now though so i feel less wretched! X


Hey Pollymolly,

Sorry you are having a tough time. Just to say I have had less colds since RA. Whenever I have had a cold since arthritis, it has knocked me for 6 and felt like a flare AND a cold, definitely an increase in joint pain.

Good luck, hope you feel better soon xx


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