How can I boost my immune system?: I've now gone... - PMRGCAuk

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How can I boost my immune system?

Marijo1951
Marijo1951

I've now gone down with my second cold in less than a month, this one accompanied by a persistent chesty cough. I also have blepharitis in my left eye that is fighting hard against the antibiotic drops that the doctor gave me. I've conquered a silly Deliveroo habit and eat a pretty healthy diet, with lots of vegetables and 2 or 3 pieces of fruit per day, no sugar or white carbs - lots of garlic, ginger and turmeric for flavouring.

Has anybody any useful tips on how I can give my immune system a boost? Also, is it a good idea to take echinacea to ward off further colds? I've had my flu and pneumonia jabs. My current dosage is 12.5 mg daily of pred and 15 mg weekly of methotrexate.

32 Replies
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PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador

You have a damaged immune system and are taking medication that calms it down - you shouldn't be thinking in terms of boosting it and echinacea is not recommended when you are on pred. It is more likely to be the methotrexate that is causing your problems - do you feel it is making a difference to the PMR and pred dose?

As for avoiding colds etc - methotrexate documentation does recommend avoiding crowds and public places in general, especially at this time of year. Handwash, handwash, handwash is the rule and keep your hands away from your face. I have friends who will leave if someone at a gathering they go to has a bad cold - to save themselves.

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to PMRpro

Thank you for your response.

I do feel the methotrexate helps me despite all the drawbacks. I certainly haven't had another GCA flare since I started it. I had two before when I tried to reduce to 25 mg. I'm now on 12.5 mg and have been instructed to reduce to 10 mg in a couple of weeks. If that goes well, I'll think about cutting the methotrexate. In view of what you say I won't start on echinacea. The only time I tried it some years ago, it didn't seem to work for me anyway.

I have to go out sometimes or I'll die of cabin fever, but I am quite a recluse these days and certainly avoid crowds. I almost never use the Tube now although I worked for London Underground for many years. I think I caught this cold when I went for a blood test at the hospital. They open at 7.30 and I normally try to get there as early as possible. This particular day I got there at 11.30 and it was crowded. I'm sure I heard snuffles and wheezes around me. Yes, basic hygiene counts for a great deal, so I'll make sure I wash my hands at every opportunity.

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Marijo1951

It does seem to help you - so think hard about stopping it since if you do you may flare as a result.

Yup - OH got a humdinger of a cold at the GP practice in the village when he needed to get his documentation for renewing his drivers licence. A couple of hours in there is guaranteed to increase the doc's workload!!

Hidden
Hidden in reply to Marijo1951

I’ve been know to get up & move away from the Coughing & Snufflers! 🤒

Hellyowl
Hellyowl in reply to PMRpro

Hi,

I can't agree more with the hand washing, I have kept reasonably free of infections since I upped my hand hygiene. i carry one of those little bottles of gel, always wash my hands when I arrive at restaurants, before I eat, and try not to touch the door handles on my way out of the loo. Family think I am mad, but it is working for me at the moment.Use gel in doctors as well, especially as we have one of those check in screens everyone touches, the worst invention ever.

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to Hellyowl

Thanks for responding. Obviously I need to become more vigilant about basic hygiene. Not that I'm filthy, but just don't think too much about little details like not touching things that lots of people have touched. PMRPro mentions not touching your face - since I read it, I realised that I regularly sit with my chin in my hand, a habit I'll try to break.

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Marijo1951

Soap and water is best - kills bugs the gels don't, especially viral ones. But gels are better than nothing.

And just think about shaking hands - disgusting people sneeze into their hands and then don't wash them! Italian air kisses are much healthier believe it or not - but total avoidance is probably better still!

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to PMRpro

Well yes, but I don't want to turn into Howard Hughes!

I have been coughing into the bend in my elbow rather than into my hand, something I saw recommended a few years ago.

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Marijo1951

You do - but it's the others that matter!! I meant avoidance of close contact rather than total avoidance...

piglette
piglette in reply to Marijo1951

You remind me of the time I said to my brother I am getting like Howard Hughes as I was pretty well housebound at the time, his reply was “what very rich?”

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to piglette

Oh, if only I'd meant that, although I'm not sure I'd want huge wealth accompanied by his other characteristics.

piglette
piglette in reply to Marijo1951

The huge wealth would be OK by itself though. I suppose the only downside is he is dead!!

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to piglette

I could manage a few millions happily enough, but owning billions seems to have a detrimental effect on the character. I've been watching 'Trust' about the kidnapping of J Paul Getty's grandson and the old man wasn't a nice person (fabulous performance by Donald Sutherland). And there's a rather scary chap whose name begins with T who currently has a certain position of power in the world...

Hidden
Hidden in reply to piglette

Nice One! 😂

Telian
Telian in reply to PMRpro

Didn't know about echinacea and pred, I take it sometimes and it makes me feel better! What does it do stop the pred working?

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Telian

It's the concept of boosting the immune system that is the problem - you have a deranged immune system, do you necessarily want to boost its madness when you are taking pred which does suppress its action a bit? I used it when we lived in Germany - can't say I ever felt it made much difference!

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to PMRpro

Sorry I used the word 'boost'. What I really meant was 'How can I make my immune system work better so I don't pick up every infection I meet?' If the answer is to give up the methotrexate, I might then have problems with tapering pred. The ironic thing is that I'm sure I picked this up when waiting for my routine monthly blood test that's to make sure the methotrexate isn't having detrimental effects!

Hidden
Hidden in reply to Marijo1951

No just simple hygiene, just assume everyone else hasn’t washed their hands!

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to Marijo1951

My reply was for Telian and a slightly different thing. You can't make your immune system work properly - if you could we wouldn't need medication to sort the problems it is causing.

But if you want to avoid colds either you stop the mtx - that is your choice and may or may not make the pred taper less easy, there is no solid evidence either way. Or you take avoidance action,

Telian
Telian in reply to PMRpro

Get it..

Hello! I take one dose of echinacea every day, and feel that I have had far fewer colds as a result. When I think a cold is starting, I increase the dose to three times a day and the result seems to be a very light cold. I hope this works for you. Best wishes.

Marijo1951
Marijo1951 in reply to ShirleyAb

I'm glad it works for you but apparently it is counter-indicated for pred so I've decided maybe I should avoid it. Oh dear, life is confusing...

piglette
piglette in reply to ShirleyAb

I think you have to be careful taking echinacea, it does seem to be contra indicative with quite a few other meds including pred.

Hidden
Hidden

Hi Mari

Afraid we can’t take the old echinacea when we have PMR as the others have explained.

I’ve had Chemo mid PMR so l’m the hand wipe Queen when I’m out n about plus a big fan of soap & water when l arrive home! I got through the Chemo infection free & l always use my own pen & l never let anyone else use it! Don’t ever use the pen in the Chemist to sign the back of your prescription! 🤢🤧😷🤒 That’s one of my top tips!

I’ve been on Methotrexate & kept well with simple precautions, just avoid the Kissing Cousins this time of the year too, well any time to be honest! 😘😘

I think it might be a good idea if we adopted the Japanese habit of wearing a face mask when we have a cold - not that it would solve the problem of picking germs up via our hands of course, but it might cut down cross infection to some extent.

Meggsy
Meggsy in reply to Marijo1951

Plus their habit of bowing instead of kissing and hand shaking - much more hygienic. I press lift/elevator buttons with my elbow.

What the others said. Last winter I even skipped my regular visit to the doctor because I thought it would be a bad idea to spend time in a waiting room full of sick people! I avoid touching door handles if I can, and a good thing is to never touch your face unless you are in your own home with clean hands.

piglette
piglette in reply to HeronNS

I hate having to go to the surgery at this time of year. I don’t understand people with colds traipsing in to see a doctor when they could just keep warm at home.

Hi, how have you been doing lately? Any improvements? Have you started taking any vitamins or supplements?

P.S its a great idea to take echinacea. It really helps boost your immune health and overall well being.

PMRpro
PMRproAmbassador in reply to kindwolfer

Echinacea is contraindicated when you are on pred or any other immunosuppressant - for obvious reasons.

piglette
piglette in reply to kindwolfer

I am not sure echinacea is a very good idea with pred. The steroids will negate the effect of the echinacea and vice versa. They are very pretty flowers though.

Thanks for your enquiry. I actually feel a lot better and I'm free of the bad colds that I was plagued with. I haven't tried echinacea given the advice from PMRpro and others.

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