Is it normal to be this sick with a common cold?

Hi - barely functioning today really. Eyes and cheeks and jaw all on fire with pain, teeth especially. Why is it that when I get colds I can hardly surface these days? Bright lights hurt and I feel sick like a rat is gnawing my guts. Don't want to move let alone go to the GP with what is just a cold. Sure I'll be better soon but just want to know if others on MTX get this sick with just a common cold. I also want to check that I should take my folic this week or not bother as no MTX? Also is Hydroxy an immuno suppressant or not?

23 Replies

  • Hi Tilda, sorry to hear you're feeling so bad. It really sounds like a humdinger of a cold!

    Haven't really got any answers for you, but thought I'd like to sympathise with you. All family members around me have a stinker of a cold so expecting something to come my way at sometime!!

    Get better soon


    Carolyn x

  • Thanks Carolyn - sorry to sound so pathetic. I think perhaps these things hit us harder when we take these RA drugs. But its also very possible I'm just becoming a total wimp because I don't get I'll very often now so when I do maybe I just feel it worse! Hope you can avoid getting the family lurgie x

  • Sorry to hear you're not well Tilda. Hope you feel better soon x

  • Hi Tilda,I can't answer your question because I don't take anything other than hydroxy but for the last couple of years I've somehow avoided swine flu,flu,colds & the awful sickness bugs. My husband,children,friends & coughing n sneezing people in packed planes shops & cinemas, I've been around them all. I can only think that the RA isn't under control & my body is fighting off infections which doesn't bode well for my joints.

    It sounds more like flu that you have,it seems to be doing the rounds again. Wish you better xx

  • Thanks Caza - no its just a really heavy duty cold - had the flu jab and I know the difference this is all in my head - the rest of me is okay apart from chills. I don't think its coincidence that we RAers don't tend to get ill. I have managed to withstand all sorts of bugs this past few years. I seem to only succumb when I go up to 17.5mg of MTX which again, I don't think is a coincidence. Also RA/ stiffness has completely gone since the raise in dose and that's what happened last time. There seems to be some invisible tipping point for me when I go over 17.5 - seems have to choose between getting lurgies extra horribly or some disease activity? X

  • Don't know how that happened oops sorry x

  • You can just click on delete when the comments double. I find it happens a lot when I use my iPhone. TTx

  • Sorry you're so ill. Just in answer to your question, you know what I take 25 mg mtxate weekly with infliximab til recently. I get colds rarely and never terribly badly and often am better before other people. Can you get doctor to call? Not a good idea to sit in surgery - for yourself and others. Best thing to do I think is to rest.


  • I can only function lying on my back in bed Cathie. Its gales again - storm force expected by evening with lashing wind. I can't seem to move and Chris is sleeping in prep for a nightshift. The boys are helping me with dogs but I feel so terrible its ridiculous. Can't call the doctor for just a bad cold! Hoping it will lift a bit tomorrow maybe. I think the extra mg of MTX has finally lowered my immune system because all residual aches and stiffness has now gone apart from the pain in my head and face which is far worse than normal for a cold. Ugh! You obviously have a more over active immune system than me - hope mine goes back on overdrive if this is the alternative! Xxx

  • Well I haven't had a cold since I've had RA / Mtx. Used to get sinus pain quite a lot when I smoked - doubly bad if I had a cold - & it can be very nasty - achey face & head but also generalised weakness, sore eyes, queasy feeling etc. Sometimes I can feel sinus problems sort of threatening but they fade away again & I've wondered whether mtx makes me a bit 'sinusy'. What you describe sounds like sinus probs to me ...... but I am definitely not doing the long-distance amateur diagnosis bit!

    Luce x

  • No you don't usually call the doctor for a bad cold, but if you are feeling this bad, how do you know its just a bad cold, and not now sinus infection, or any of the other possibilities that could go along with or be triggered by a cold? Definitely do the usual self help home remedy looking after yourself stuff, but if it doesn't start getting a bit better quickly or if you stay feeling really ill, then phone your doctor and ask for advice.

    I find that the face pain often relieves a bit just with plain steam inhalations (hot water in a bowl, head over bowl, and big towel right over head and bowl). I did get told some time ago to avoid putting things like friars balsam in inhalations too often because the way that worked was to irritate the sinuses first before it cleared them, but too much would keep them irritated. For me plain steam works just as well and won't damage anything.

    Home made lemsips are nice too - lemon juice, a bit of honey, hot water and soluble paracetamol dropped into it - and they don't have the chemical junk that the bought ones do. Don't underestimate the power of plain paracetamol to relieve some of the "cold" aches.

  • Thanks - I'm actually feeling like I'm on the mend now. Slept this afternoon and woke feeling a tiny bit more human. I've been living on paracetamol for 3 days now max dose with the odd codeine and ibuprofen shoved in too. I think the thing that's made it so much worse is the reduced immune system from MTX - and I believe the higher dose accounts for it because I really never get ill but each time I've gone up to this level I get sick with every virus going. Three colds since RA and each one lousy and each one with a hike in dosage of MTX. Still I don't have to call the doctor again which is a relief. He did say to call in a few days time - it's just not the same thing having one of these viruses when you are on two immune suppressing drugs as it would be normally. Husband is taking penicillin for his sinusitis - he regularly gets it and after 3 separate surges of it over the past month he gave in and went and begged for some and took the night off work last night.They've worked really quickly. I told him to inhale but he doesn't have time. Mine is too flowing just now to be sinusitis - eyes still streaming and nose like a fountain - but if it heads up that way I'll hang my head over a bowl

    We both have really narrow passages. He told the GP that he's sad that he cant have the odd fag anymore on a starry night when he's working because his sinuses kick of and he's in pain for weeks! GP laiughed and said "oh you poor chap - what a shame?!"

  • Tilda poor you my colleague is the same as you though no ra. She has been ill from monday face and head really painful then the exhaustion and all over pain and now the cough. She thinks its a nastier than usual cold virus she picked up from her husband. take it easy.


  • Get well soon x

  • Thanks Mads and Summer - all 3 of my colds since RA have been like this but my son did say it was a particularly hellish cold virus for him too and its returned twice for him :-( . Lots of folk here have had a flu thing that's lasted for ages - several right over Xmas and New Year so I can't complain - especially as its provided me with a week off my meds! Will be interesting to see if it notices re joints. If not I'm going to forever be wondering if its worth it!

    Summer how did your day go? Tilda x

  • Wishing you a speedy recovery xx

  • I'm on MTX and got a cold Boxing Day night that stayed with me for over 2 weeks. I do get more severe colds now that I'm on MTX so do my best not to catch one! (Take Vit. C and several other supplements). Hubby caught it from me and then gave it back to me again! My resistance is not as good since having RA and the meds. Lost my sense of taste for about 3/4 days which, if it became permanent, would have made me suicidal as I am a food lover and not to taste anything was soooooo depressing. Put some Vick in a bowl of hot water and breathe in the fumes - cleared my head. Paste a bit on each side of your pillow so you are breathing it in at night when you're sleeping - it does work! Stay warm, take paracetemol regularly and I would continue the MTX and folic acid even though you arent well.

    There's lots going around, so it isnt just us rheumies who are getting it.

    Be well soon.

    Lynn xx

  • At last someone else understands how much I hate having lost my sense of taste and smell and had it replaced by some vaguely foul flavour of rottenness! This is why I'm always questioning whether I actually need these drugs as my senses have just become so impaired - especially with this cold but actually all the time now. Could be menopause or RA too I suppose but I'm inclined to blame the drugs. It is miserable isnt it? TTx

  • hi tilda,how strange,i,ve had a bad cold which has gone on to my chest,but the sickness is awful so unlike me to be sick and have an upset tummy,i was gonna write on here for advice as i on hydroxy too and unsure if its that causing the sickness,i don,t know weather to stop taking for time being or just carry on,anyway i really hope you feel better soon try to rest gentle hugs xxx

  • Hope you feel better soon Tilda..sounds like you have had a terrible time. Big hugs from the mainland xxxx

  • Thanks Lynn, Sheener and Jo. I am actually much better today and the weather has been too. I'm still bunged up and still shovelling down paracetamol and just sat down to do some work and woke up 2 1/2 hours later slumped at my work table so not by any means perfect!

    Everyone says its a particularly nasty virus so I can't tell if its actuly been worse for being on MTX and Hydroxy or not. I'm having the week off both drugs because my body says its exhausted and needs a bit of immunity back to fight this thing so seems best to follow GP and my own body's advice. Have never taken a week off MTX since I started 14 months ago and part or me is very curious to see if the RA comes back at all because to be honest I've never felt so supple and non -RAish as I do this week despite feeling hellish in the head. Quite prepared to concede this is probably because of raised dose of injectable MTX and possibly the Hydroxy too. But a stubborn little beast in me wonders if I stayed off them then what would happen. I think it would slowly return but just can't be as sure as all that? Seeing optician next week and that will help decide me about the Hydroxy I guess. I don't think you should stop it Sheener - I wouldn't if I were you its only recently kicked in for you. Tildax

  • Ps Sorry Rocpool my eyesight is failing me and I thought you were Jo! X

  • Thanks tilda,I had a few days off as forgot to order some over weekend. (silly me) but still unsure why I feeling sick,never mind you get better soon hun xxxx

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