Tummy bugs and the autoimmune system?: Following a day... - NRAS

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Tummy bugs and the autoimmune system?

Following a day of feeling a bit nuts and very nauseous yesterday I was so sick in the middle of the night (just the once but that was enough! and have had the runs all night and all morning. I'm feeling fine again today (upbeat and no tummy pains or nausea). So I'm wondering if this is a tummy bug or just the exhaustion of the past few rather intense days? My GP friend said it could well be the Noro virus and this lead me to wonder - if I seem to rarely get ill re colds, flu and tummy bugs, despite having school age teens and mixing with plenty of folk with various ailments - is this because my immune system is working too well?

I think Williby asked this question sometime back but can't remember the answer. Strangely it's as if throwing up etc has got rid of all the demons that were plaguing me since last MTX dose on Tuesday. My friend thought this was funny - like I was something out of the Exorcist! She did say something about neutrophiles and MTX but I was in too much of a rush to ask her more and not certain she would have known actually or been able to explain to a non-scientist like me.

Also wondered if we are trying to get our immune systems suppressed by the DMARDs then are foods like Manuka honey undermining the effectiveness of imunosuppressants such as MTX by boosting the immune system - or claiming to at any rate?

12 Replies

You make a good point Tilda, my pharmacist told me NOT to use echinaecia? it is immune sys booster and I am on immunosuppressants.

I too have wondered, although I am reluctant to voice this, why since I was diagnosed, I have really only had the odd little throat/cold, whereas before I would have got bronchitis from a cold! touch wood etc etc...

A friend of mines sister has RA & is on all the same meds as us, she got a really bad pneumonia, hospitalised etc, and my pal said it was because she was stressed out with her sons wives having babies and she was running between the two of them....

I got the rapid lash in Boots today, expensive €50!!! My poor credit card.. better work.

Glad you are feeling better Tilda, nothing like a chat on the big white phone, to cleanse the system...



Yes I just wondered about it because others say they get ill a lot on MTX but I never seem to at all. Interesting that you don't either. My husband spoke at length to one of his cousins in run up to his dad's funeral. She told him that after years of having severe osteoarthritis - many joints replaced etc (she's about 55) she had been diagnosed with RA about 2 years ago. She was put on Sulpha and MTX combined and was doing well with them until this February she developed pneumonia and almost died - was in hospital for ages and they said it was all down to the MTX (she was on 25mgs) so she's off it now and says she is feeling much happier in herself for only being on the sulpha although they want her to go on anti-tnfs soon. She explained to OH that the MTX is an imunosupressant and was making her pretty sick by the end of taking it and in the run up to the pneumonia - getting loads of bugs and stuff. She is also diabetic so maybe that has a bearing I'm not sure.

I'm sure stress plays a part because it weakens the immune system too as my OT pointed out. I think I may be starting to flare because, in common with the few other times I've flared, I've been getting insanely cold - hands and feet especially and everything aches. Hope I'm just imagining this though as otherwise fine and my teens are being gorgeous, hubby is having a great time with eldest in Edinburgh and about to go and hear Van Morrison and really I can't complain about much at this stage.

Although it has to be said that domestic drudgery and me are fundamentally unsuited! I'm really only made to be a working artist and perhaps a dog cuddler and loving partner and parent. Cooking nightly and endlessly scooping, loading dishwasher, washing up, hoovering, dusting and detoxing toilets (the boys do help but usually it's just more work getting them to do stuff if you know what I mean?) and washing floor, clothes washing in cold weather and dog walking plus being the sole driver is all taking it's toll on my poor old joints - plus I'm not managing to get any Wii exercise done at all although with vomiting etc I've lost 4lbs in one week! Fingers as crossed as possible that this isn't flare up anyway. TTx


Hi T

I havent had any more infections than pre ra, but the last infection although I wasn't bad with it. I never got any worse, but it would not go. I reckon I had it at least 7-10 days before I knew I was sick and a further 2 wks. I got worn down from my body fighting ra and being attacked by the virus. Maybe if I was not working and feeling tired & rundown from working I may of handled the virus better. Another problem I encoutered is that I was not given strong enough antibiotics initially, so the secondary infection I got was allowed to take hold, as secondary infections are by nature opportunists.

Considering schools are a bed of infections, I think I've done well not to come down with more.

The benefits I get from mtx far out weighs my infection rate at the moment, my drug regime and steroids are what allowing me to work, without them I would be at home sick with the dreaded ra. I think that is true for most of us! I cannot say at this point if mtx has made me immuno compromised as I have not had enough infections to draw that conclusion so far.

As for the wii, I got wii fit for my birthday last yr and I have been unable to use it since last July, due to joint pain in my knees and soles of feet. It is my hope that I will be able to so something on it sometime this yr.

Sci :)


I agree with you all, I rarely get infections but then I don't have much contact with little ones with runny noses etc.

My body tends to go for the biggie's, I've been diagnosed A.S/RA for yrs then with kidney disease for about 7 yr now and just been diagnosed with heart failure... Needless to say 'I love my body'... NOT. lol

Beth xx


This is all interesting and I really feel for you all as usual when I read your tales - kidney disease on top of RA and AS sounds hellish Beth and I think you're very brave.

But I still don't really get whether the RA itself has taken hold of us because we have over active immune systems that the drugs are then trying to suppress - so if we aren't getting ill with colds and viruses etc does that actually mean that the imunosuppressants aren't working for us? I know it's a balance and if our immune systems get too suppressed then our white blood cells get too low and that's dangerous for us - but if we seem to have very efficient immune systems and healthy white blood cell counts does that then mean we aren't getting the benefit of drugs such as MTX because they aren't suppressing our immunity enough? This is one of the many things about rheumatology that baffles me still.

I've just taken a Zopiclone sleeping pill for the first time in many months so must crash out now. But just wanted to say to you Sci that there are other things you can do on the Wii that shouldn't hurt your knees of feet too much such as some of the balance exercises and the yoga ones too. If you can bear it try do try a few minutes each day because those knees and feet need the muscles around them to be strong to support them. I know you know this and I'm sounding lecturing and it's all very well for me who doesn't have nearly as much pain to cope with just now. But I have in the near past and am finding that not having not been near the Wii or the stress ball for hands for a week because I've been going flat out with kids, house, dog and distant emotional support for OH plus keeping going on work - and having spent last night head down the toilet or in a bucket with the trots - everything is aching and kicking off and I'm sure it's just because I've lost my exercise routine. TTx



The RA does make our immune systems over active, and some of the drugs do have immune suppressant effects to calm it all down again. So advice not to take stuff like echinea which boosts it back up again is right. But manuka honey doesn't do that, it's a natural anti-biotic.

Anyway, even with a supressed immune system we do still have some degree of immunity otherwise we'd all have to live in plastic bubbles. But we're all different so some of us are still more resistant than others. I've had several bouts of pneumonia (not fun) but all before I got RA. Since I got RA I've been looking after myself loads better, with proper sleep and food etc and so far I've not had anything much by way of other illness.

You've been out on the edge for a while, with extra stress and so on, so it's quite possible that you were more vulnerable to bugs. Tho' a one-off violent "cleansing" sounds more like a food related thing to me - you hadn't been eating scallops had you? Anyway, hope you're feeling a bit better now.

Let's hope that you've thrown up all the bad stuff, physical and mental, and have nothing but opositives now. Px


Thanks very much Polly - it's certainly help lose me a few more pounds anyway! Despite all the rushing to the loo and lack of sleep the previous night I have woken up yesterday and today feeling normal again.

I'm making a mood and MTX chart now and this first week has certainly fitted the pattern but then I'm aware that hubby is coming back tomorrow promising to relieve me of 50% of the drudgery and make sure I can get back to my exercise and studio work routine which have both been shelved recently. Got one big deadline in September which we are aiming for now and it's slow stuff indeed with a lot to accomplish.

I wasn't really suggesting that the sick bug had anything to do with a compromised immune system. I just wondered if I'm gnerally not getting colds and viruses because my immune system is too efficient? My GP friend said something about neutrophiles that the MTX is attacking but I was rushing out with the dog and didn't quite get it. Will have to read up some more about what exactly it is doing and how it hopes to pacify/ suppress the disease activity by this.

Personally I think I had got overtired from the previous weeks goings on and rarely I am violently sick when I'm over- exhausted. It hasn't happened for about a year and a half and last time was o n an Easy Jet flight so this was relatively easy and inocuos in comparison! But my GP friend said she doesn't think it can have been food poisoning, despite my crap cooking, because we both ate the same thing and it was too long afterwards and also I had felt dizzy and sick all day. She thought it was the Noro virus which is currently doing the rounds here and which she too had had for 24 hours 2 weeks ago, but I'm not convinced re the overtiredness thing. Anyway onwards and upwards hope you all have a nice Sunday.


hello Tilda, can't offer much more but I am aware you don't seem to get regular blood test results like some of us...... but I had a period where I was constantly ill for around 8 weeks, picking up everything that was going but my White Cell Count was low during this time which explains what was going on, RA wise I was brilliant!! my Doctor did show concern and if the wcc didn't rise then she was going to contact consultant but thankfully it went back up and hey ho I'm managing to stay clear of further bugs....

Noro virus, poor you (if it is), we've all had a shot of that one!!



Tilda I hope you're feeling a bit better and that your partner is back soon and enjoyed Van the Man. I'm fighting off another light reaction and am quite tired after Derek's creative weekend. Lots of ideas but need to have calm to start working on them.



Great to hear that you're stimulated by this weekend. Chris too is on cloud nine after the Van concert which he said was amazing - best thing he's ever been too etc etc. And it made him feel young as he was the youngest man in the theatre apart from our 20 year old son who also was surprised to find himself a Van fan!

My end my tummy has settled but I've very little appetite and I'm now 4lbs lighter which I plan to keep off me. Have had a very assertive round of communications with a close London friend and am hoping to get the ball rolling for some desperately needed rheumy expertese outwith my health authoritiy because I've had enough of being abandoned on 15mgs of MTX with no knowledge of when I'll next be seen and by whom. My wrists and ankles are now playing up rather badly although I have been doing housework round the clock and trying to fit in the odd hour of embroidery in on the odd day - but really the boys have exams straight after the Easter holls and I've got to feed them and wash clothes endlessly and clean toilets and do the dishes plus hoovering it's hardly surprising that I'm feeling the pain I suppose?

But I'm back to flashing pain in fingers and palms and wrists and spells of deep heat followed by cold all over so I've decided enough is enough and I'm going to take my GP by surprise on Tuesday (blood tests first thing tomorrow) and tell him enough is enough. I've been given the name of a top notch rheumy in London and am going to ask him to take me on as a private patient. If by some unlikely chance I get the job I've applied for then I will use the money I earn to pay for yearly visits which will be some kind of strange poetic justice! And on the very plus side it will be an excuse to stay with family, see exhibitions etc. So all in all I'm feeling much better now but then it is day 5 since my last MTX dose and that's usually when things feel better mood wise. TTx


Having over efficient immune systems is what caused RA for us the immune system went into over drive and started attacking itself namely our joints!, laymans speak Tilda ok?

Gina is write echnicea is not recommeded cetrtainly not with mtx as it stimulates the immue system x


Yes that's what I thought Alison. So if the MTX or other DMARDs and anti-tnfs are doing their job we should be getting more viruses than we were before being medicated then surely? I'm sure it's much more complicated than my stupid arts orientated brain can figure out but this is point keeps annoying me! TTx


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