Cold and chest infection: Hi everyone. Is it me, or... - NRAS

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Cold and chest infection

Glyn612
Glyn612
18 Replies

Hi everyone. Is it me, or does having RA mean that you can't get a cold without it being something much more serious. At the end of November/beginning of December I had a chest/throat/ear infection and had to have antibiotics. It was two weeks before I began to feel better, and three weeks before I felt really well again. However, 10 days later and I was struck down with another chest infection and more antibiotics. This time it's been a real stinker of a cold, sneezing and coughing and thousands of tissues, and the worst headache I've ever had, which has been going on now for four days. I don't think I can just get a "cold" anymore without it being something that lays me out for days. I'm not the sort of person who goes to bed when ill but with this "cold" and the previous one I've had to go to bed for three days. Even today, Christmas Eve, when the antibiotics have kicked in, I still feel unwell. I think I'm feeling very sorry for myself and have had to cancel a lot of Christmas social plans because of this illness. Do people think that because of the drugs we take our immune systems are more vulnerable to viruses? I had a steroid injection in November which helped my RA enormously, but in hindsight I wonder if it has left me more vulnerable to other illnesses. What other people seem to get over in days, takes me weeks to recover from. Feeling very down at the moment.

18 Replies
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hawker955

Hello Glyn. The short answer is yes! Most of the potent medications that we use damp down our immune system which is why they work for RA. Steroids and biologicals both make one much more susceptible to infections like colds and flu, certain bacterial infections. Thi is why we are, or should be warned sternly about unpasteurised eggs, unwashed vegetables, red meat and similar. colds and flu are generally picked up by contact, eg door handles, shared keypads, phones and so on. One of the purposes of Christmas parties is to spread infections! Avoid close contact eg under the mistletoe and stay away from children's parties! I hope this helps avoid further infectious diseases!

Happy Christmas in any event!

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Glyn612
Glyn612
in reply to hawker955

Thanks. I'm absolutely OCD about hand cleanliness and always have hand sanitiser at the ready, but didn't work this time. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you x

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nablur
nablur
in reply to Glyn612

Me too Glyn. Don’t forget your thumbs!

Hope you’re better fast. Merry Christmas and

Happy New Year to you as well!

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oldtimer

Yes having RD makes you respond less actively to infections if you are on immune suppressing drugs.

But unfortunately this is the time of the year for people to have lots of infections and some of those will come with a large number of bugs giving you (and others) a more serious infection.

But just think - you are getting resistance to all these infections - as you get older your body will have had more experience! No - perhaps that not such a help...

Happy seasonal greetings anyway!

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Glyn612
Glyn612
in reply to oldtimer

Oh, I'd really like to believe that my body is getting resistant to these infections but I'm afraid as I get older I get worse and any slight cold knocks me out for days. I never used to have to go to bed with a cold. Actually, I feel like my immune system is knackered and it scares me that these things will get worse the older I get. Anyway, tis the season to be jolly and so I'll cheer up for the next couple of days, but back to the GP at the end of the week I think. Merry Christmas to you x

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sylvi

As our immune systems are fighting the RA it means our bodies are more suspectable to catching everything going. Hugs darling.xxx

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helixhelix

I really think it is another thing that is so variable. I haven't had much more than a sniffle since I was diagnosed 8+ years ago. Despite neimg om triple therapy with steroid top ups from time to time. I guess I'm just lucky that I don't seem to appeal to bugs.

A few years back my very healthy OH got norvirus from a dodgy oyster, and passed it to me (despite being extra careful!). He was much worse than me, and it lasted longer. Go figure?

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nomoreheels

I'm sorry you're feeling so down, little surprise really. Well, my experience is that I've had fewer colds than I had pre RD but the few I've had have taken a while to go. I am mindful of picking things up so avoid anyone sneezing or sniffing & use antibacterial gel after going through the final door if I use a public lop & I don't touch my face if I use a shopping trolley then use the gel once I've done with it. I don't obsess about it, just common sense stuff really.

Your GP obviously thought they were bacterial not a virus otherwise he wouldn't have prescribed antibiotics especially as they're advised not to without good reason nowadays due to the possibility of building up resistance. Assuming you finished the courses of both (I can't stress enough how important that is) it seems it's possible you either could have benefited from a repeat course for the first infection or you were just unlucky to pick up another bacterial infection.

This time of year we are in contact with more people, Christmas shopping, get togethers, parties, just generally around more people with who knows what, harbouring all the nasties this time of year can offer up. If you add into that your immune system not being all it could be to fight them off depending on which meds you're on (anti-TNF's/biologics more so) we can be open to anything doing the rounds. But when all's said & done we're each different & our ability to fight off nasties isn't either.

Did you think to or were you told to halt your meds (DMARDs etc) whilst you were on antibiotics? It can help the antibiotics work that bit better.

My h is feeling cold'ish so I've just made him a hot toddy of manuka honey, fresh lemon & rum. It's very soothing, lovely if your throat is scratchy or you have a chesty cough. Maybe minus the rum though!

I hope you feel that bit better for tomorrow, enough to enjoy family time. Happy Christmas. x🎄

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Glyn612
Glyn612
in reply to nomoreheels

Dear Paula, solid advice from you as always. Yes, I'm fanatical about hand cleanliness and carry anti-bacterial gel with me everywhere I go. However, some things are air-borne I suppose. I think you may be right about not getting rid of the first infection though - I didn't feel 100% better and never felt as if I'd shaken it off completely. Anyway, I'm on day 4 of doxycycline and although my cold symptoms are improving, the cough actually seems to be getting worse. I've booked a doctor's appt for the end of the week so if it's no better I'll go back and try to get another lot of antibiotics. My sister doesn't have RA and she gets more chest infections than me. She's currently on amoxicillin. What a pair we are? Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and your H. You do sterling work on this site - I'm one of those people who only use it when I'm ill, whereas you always seem to be around to give advice. Good on you!! Take care x

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nomoreheels
nomoreheels
in reply to Glyn612

Aw, thank you for your kind words Glynis, I'm most appreciative. I can only hope the doxycycline does it's good work so your chest doesn't worsen & there's no need to sit in a waiting room of snivelling & coughing patients.

I hope tomorrow you're able to perk up a bit to enjoy the day . Happy Christmas to you & your family. x 🎄

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Downtime

It does seem variable. I’ve always had a lot of horrible colds with bronchitis in the past. Since RA and being on Mxt for 3 years I’ve hardly had one and when I did, it went in a couple of days. Since I’ve added a biologic 6 months ago I have had one, but it wasn’t bad and lasted barely a week. Very odd, maybe my immune system is on overdrive and the drugs are just suppressing it a bit!

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wishbone

I think it's the immune suppressing meds, especially biologics, more than the actual disease that makes us susceptible to infections along with difficulty treating them with antibiotics. The problem I see with many of these meds is they can take weeks, even months to leave our bodies, hence continue to suppress the immune system for some time after someone stops taking them because of an infection.

Not that I need reminding, but included with my baricitinib prescription last week, which I receive through the post from rhuemy, was a letter reminding me to stop taking it at the first sign of an infection. As I'm prone to infections this reminder probably refers specifically to me, so I'm not sure if my rheumy does the same with everyone taking this or any other immune suppressing meds, or just folks who are prone to infections. A major plus with baricitinib is it leaves the body within a couple of days.

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Shalf
Shalf
in reply to wishbone

Interesting again Wishbone. As you know I stopped Baracitinib almost two weeks ago. I now have a upper respiratory infection ( greeny coloured phlegm - yuk) ears/ throat hurt. Would think my immune system would be attacking this and helping ??

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wishbone
wishbone
in reply to Shalf

I would think it is attacking your infection, perhaps not as effectively as a healthy person's immune system, but more effectively than someone on immune suppressants, which I believe is something that's pretty much widely accepted. Although not all rheumies stop someones meds when they have an infection, in my case they do and even if my rheumy was one of the 'keep on taking your meds fraternity' I would still stop taking them unless it was vital not to.

I'm not by any means suggesting that having an auto immune condition like RA does not make us more susceptible to picking up infections and less capable of fighting them, but I do think, at least in my case, that immune suppressing meds is by far the main player here and the bigger culprit of the two.

Despite having a serious lung condition, I have not had a chest infection since the inflammation did the damage well over 3 years ago...hope I don't come to regret saying that! Anyway, hope your infection clears soon Suzie.

edit...should add that I was not taking any immune suppressing meds for the vast majority of those 3 years.

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Shalf
Shalf
in reply to wishbone

Thanks Wishbone. It feels like the infection may need antibiotics. Been trying all the home remedies but not clearing so far. It weighs you down :(

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VeronicaF

I am not on biologics,but since having RA I have never had so much as a cold.

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SilverShadow21

Hi I am new to this forum and just been reading your post finding it very interesting as I myself have recently had a very bad cold and throat. Upon going to the Drs got told it was viral and despite mentioning that my phlegm was pale green which I had always though t was a sign of infection I was not given anti-biotics. A week later I returned as my throat was no better very raw, difficulty swallowing, chesty cough, bad congestion and voice going. I was given anti-biotics and an inhaler due to chest by this particular Dr and advised to return if no improvement which I had to do and was given a further course of anti-biotics. I was diagnosed at this stage with acute laryngitis and had no voice for approx. two weeks almost a month since initial symptoms still had a cough and voice occasionally croaky. I wonder if I had been given anti-biotics earlier would have prevented all of this.

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