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Author Topic: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?  (Read 13029 times)

Karsten

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If I get a cold is it just one virus that gives me the cold (or flu)? Can I get another cold while I already have one? How many viruses can infect me at one time? Are the symptoms worse with multiple cold virus infections? Are some viruses the cause for the headache and others for the runny nose and several working together make me feel so miserable that I call the condition "sick" rather than just uncomfortable?
« Last Edit: 15/12/2009 09:18:59 by chris »

Mr. Scientist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #1 on: 13/12/2009 00:35:47 »
Only once - when your body fights a virus, it means that your immune system has built accordingly the correct ''systems'' to fight such a thing. Any cold you have after that is either of a different type or it's a mutation of the same virus.

But you can't catch the same cold twice :)

Mr. Scientist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #2 on: 13/12/2009 00:37:08 »
This is why germs are actually important. Over-cleaning of enviroments leads to an unhealthy immune system, or at least, one not very well developed.

Karsten

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #3 on: 13/12/2009 03:26:02 »
I feel misunderstood. And I will rephrase the original question.

I know that I can get sick from a virus only once. But while I am sick from this one virus, can I get sick from another virus at the same time? Who says they wait politely their turn? Why would one of the 200 cold viruses not attack while I am fighting another one of the 200 cold viruses? Same with the flu: Can I get infected with H1N1 (or whatever other types of flu are out there) while I fight seasonal flu or vice versa?

And if I get several cold/flu viruses at once (or overlapping), how does this look?

Chemistry4me

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #4 on: 13/12/2009 04:55:20 »
I don't see how being attacked from one virus somehow stops another one(s) from attacking you.

Karsten

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #5 on: 13/12/2009 05:11:35 »
I don't see how being attacked from one virus somehow stops another one(s) from attacking you.

Exactly, so how does this look? One virus: a little sick. Two viruses at once: a little more sick. Three viruses at once: Quite sick. etc?

Is it common to have a cold based on one virus or is it usually several? Are some cold viruses specialized? Say, runny nose, sore throat, joint aches, etc?

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #6 on: 13/12/2009 05:24:17 »
Ha, that's way out of my league so I'm not even going to bother

Mr. Scientist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #7 on: 13/12/2009 07:30:35 »
I feel misunderstood. And I will rephrase the original question.

I know that I can get sick from a virus only once. But while I am sick from this one virus, can I get sick from another virus at the same time? Who says they wait politely their turn? Why would one of the 200 cold viruses not attack while I am fighting another one of the 200 cold viruses? Same with the flu: Can I get infected with H1N1 (or whatever other types of flu are out there) while I fight seasonal flu or vice versa?

And if I get several cold/flu viruses at once (or overlapping), how does this look?
No Virus is the same once you've been infected and built immunity. Now i feel misunderstood :)

Karsten

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #8 on: 13/12/2009 13:44:00 »
I feel misunderstood. And I will rephrase the original question.

I know that I can get sick from a virus only once. But while I am sick from this one virus, can I get sick from another virus at the same time? Who says they wait politely their turn? Why would one of the 200 cold viruses not attack while I am fighting another one of the 200 cold viruses? Same with the flu: Can I get infected with H1N1 (or whatever other types of flu are out there) while I fight seasonal flu or vice versa?

And if I get several cold/flu viruses at once (or overlapping), how does this look?
No Virus is the same once you've been infected and built immunity. Now i feel misunderstood :)

I don't understand you comment.

Mr. Scientist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #9 on: 13/12/2009 13:55:18 »
I feel misunderstood. And I will rephrase the original question.

I know that I can get sick from a virus only once. But while I am sick from this one virus, can I get sick from another virus at the same time? Who says they wait politely their turn? Why would one of the 200 cold viruses not attack while I am fighting another one of the 200 cold viruses? Same with the flu: Can I get infected with H1N1 (or whatever other types of flu are out there) while I fight seasonal flu or vice versa?

And if I get several cold/flu viruses at once (or overlapping), how does this look?
No Virus is the same once you've been infected and built immunity. Now i feel misunderstood :)

I don't understand you comment.

I mean, any time you get sick from a virus, and the next time you become infected by a virus, it's never really the same virus twice i meant lol :)

Karsten

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #10 on: 13/12/2009 15:15:33 »
I feel misunderstood. And I will rephrase the original question.

I know that I can get sick from a virus only once. But while I am sick from this one virus, can I get sick from another virus at the same time? Who says they wait politely their turn? Why would one of the 200 cold viruses not attack while I am fighting another one of the 200 cold viruses? Same with the flu: Can I get infected with H1N1 (or whatever other types of flu are out there) while I fight seasonal flu or vice versa?

And if I get several cold/flu viruses at once (or overlapping), how does this look?
No Virus is the same once you've been infected and built immunity. Now i feel misunderstood :)

I don't understand you comment.

I mean, any time you get sick from a virus, and the next time you become infected by a virus, it's never really the same virus twice i meant lol :)

Yes, I understood that part. I don't understand how this addresses my question though.

Mr. Scientist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #11 on: 13/12/2009 15:18:49 »
I've been quite confused haven't I?

Bored chemist

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #12 on: 13/12/2009 20:32:58 »
I've been quite confused haven't I?
Frequently.
Anyway it's also quite common for a bacterium to take advantage of someone with a cold and to infect them at the same time.

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #13 on: 13/12/2009 21:27:58 »
I've been quite confused haven't I?
Frequently.
Anyway it's also quite common for a bacterium to take advantage of someone with a cold and to infect them at the same time.

Haha..well said.

Karsten

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #14 on: 13/12/2009 21:40:29 »
I've been quite confused haven't I?

Yes, I have heard that too.

Maybe no one has bothered looking how many different viruses are involved when it comes to the common cold. It is just something one gets and it goes away again. Not dangerous enough to bother with lots of research unless one gets hit by a nasty virus or bacterial infection as well.
Frequently.
Anyway it's also quite common for a bacterium to take advantage of someone with a cold and to infect them at the same time.

chris

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Re: How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #15 on: 15/12/2009 09:18:28 »
Only once - when your body fights a virus, it means that your immune system has built accordingly the correct ''systems'' to fight such a thing. Any cold you have after that is either of a different type or it's a mutation of the same virus.

But you can't catch the same cold twice :)

This isn't quite true because it ignores the fact that immunity itself may wane, which frequently happens in old age and with increasing elapsed time since the infection was last encountered - specifically, the memory cells that were produced to combat the infection during the initial encounter senesce or are lost, resetting the immunological response to that of an immune-naive person.

Chris

chris

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How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #16 on: 15/12/2009 09:29:04 »
Now, to address the original question: "How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at the same time?", there are several things to consider.

If, by "attack", you mean viruses that you encounter and which have the opportunity to infect you (but do not necessarily do so), then the answer is that there is almost no limit to the number of different agents that can attack you at once. The more virus particles you breathe in the more chances there are that one or more of them may infect you.

Alternatively, if you meant "how many different agents can successfully infect you at any one time", the answer is probably still quite a large number. We used to think that infection with one virus put the body into an anti-viral state (through the production of immune cytokines like interferons) for the duration of the infection, making it much more difficult for other agents to infect simultaneously.

More recently, however, with the advent of much more sensitive diagnostic tools like PCR, we routinely pick up patients with multiple respiratory infections; in some cases I have diagnosed children with 4 different infections simultaneously. One kiddie for whom I received a sample had managed to catch RSV, rhinovirus, paraflu and an enterovirus all at once! We've also noticed that the children with the worst clinical presentations are often the ones like this. So what we call a "heavy cold" could occasionally be a multiple infection.

So the answer to your question is that, rather like email viruses, you are continuously being bombarded with agents that are attempting to infect you, but most of the time you repel them. A few, which you may not have encountered previously or against which your immunity has weakened through time, can make it through and successfully hijack some of your cells. Most people suffer from a single infection at a time, but occasionally multiple infections occur and are probably symptomatically more severe.

Chris

BenV

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How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #17 on: 15/12/2009 10:50:21 »
We used to think that infection with one virus put the body into an anti-viral state (through the production of immune cytokines like interferons) for the duration of the infection, making it much more difficult for other agents to infect simultaneously.

Has this been shown to be not true, or just less powerful than first imagined?  I would have assumed it to be true, so it shows what I know!

Karen W.

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How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #18 on: 15/12/2009 12:36:12 »
When I was diagnosed H1N1 she also diagnosed me with a bacterial infection, and my lungs with a bad case of bronchitis also with a cold.. I was having symptoms of both cold and flu and could not myself tell what I had which is why I went in to doctor.. was wiped out and got really sick amazingly fast.... Was the pits!

Karsten

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How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at same time?
« Reply #19 on: 15/12/2009 21:25:08 »
Now, to address the original question: "How many cold or flu viruses can attack me at the same time?", there are several things to consider.

If, by "attack", you mean viruses that you encounter and which have the opportunity to infect you (but do not necessarily do so), then the answer is that there is almost no limit to the number of different agents that can attack you at once. The more virus particles you breathe in the more chances there are that one or more of them may infect you.

Alternatively, if you meant "how many different agents can successfully infect you at any one time", the answer is probably still quite a large number. We used to think that infection with one virus put the body into an anti-viral state (through the production of immune cytokines like interferons) for the duration of the infection, making it much more difficult for other agents to infect simultaneously.

More recently, however, with the advent of much more sensitive diagnostic tools like PCR, we routinely pick up patients with multiple respiratory infections; in some cases I have diagnosed children with 4 different infections simultaneously. One kiddie for whom I received a sample had managed to catch RSV, rhinovirus, paraflu and an enterovirus all at once! We've also noticed that the children with the worst clinical presentations are often the ones like this. So what we call a "heavy cold" could occasionally be a multiple infection.

So the answer to your question is that, rather like email viruses, you are continuously being bombarded with agents that are attempting to infect you, but most of the time you repel them. A few, which you may not have encountered previously or against which your immunity has weakened through time, can make it through and successfully hijack some of your cells. Most people suffer from a single infection at a time, but occasionally multiple infections occur and are probably symptomatically more severe.

Chris

This seems to address the question exactly the way I hoped it would be understood. Thanks!

 

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