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Author Topic: Why do I suffer repeated bouts of flu and colds?  (Read 102326 times)

Offline SSR

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Why do I suffer repeated bouts of flu and colds?
« on: 11/04/2012 14:10:43 »
Hi folks,

I've been suffering badly with colds/flu for a fair few years. Typically once a month I catch something, and my friends will often say how they've never known someone be so ill.

When I catch a cold/flu it seems to hit me particularly hard as well. The worst part is the muscular/joint pains, which can be agonising. This is often coupled with sinusitis. The recent bout I have been treating with combined paracetamol and ibuprofen, which only takes the edge off. It was so bad that the GP then prescribed me tramadol. A cold/flu will typically last 1-2 weeks in terms of severe symptoms, and I have to take a substantial amount of time off work (with the associated problems that causes).

I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and have a good diet. I've even started taking a multi-vitamin, just in case (although I still think they fall under the category of snake oil).

I suppose there's a bell curve for people with immunity, and some will be average, and some will be great. I seem to be down the other edge of the wedge.

Any suggestions for what I can do?

(I didn't pursue a flu jab last Autumn which was probably a big mistake)
« Last Edit: 16/04/2012 19:15:25 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #1 on: 11/04/2012 17:40:23 »
Could you please supply a little more background information.
Age, Sex, Occupation, Do you have children?  Other medical conditions?

Make sure you take the flu vaccines EVERY YEAR as this seems to be a regular problem with you.  Of course, the flu vaccines only cover a few strains of the flu, but it should help.

Wash your hands regularly.  Gloves?

Have you tried antivirals?
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/summary-clinicians.htm
They apparently do help reduce the duration of the symptoms somewhat.

You also didn't mention the use of:
decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines.  Talk to your doctor about what would help keep the nasal passages open.

Have you ever had lab tests to confirm the flu (Influenza A/B)?

Antibiotics are a tricky subject.  If you truly have the flu, caused by a virus, an antibiotic will be ineffective.  However, there is also risk of a secondary bacterial infection with sinusitis and bronchitis.

There is also a surgery that can help with sinusitis in some patients.  If sinusitis is a major debilitating portion of your illness, you may discuss the surgery with your physician.
 

Offline SSR

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #2 on: 11/04/2012 19:51:23 »
Could you please supply a little more background information.
Age, Sex, Occupation, Do you have children?  Other medical conditions?
39 years old, male, and currently work in a school (have lived abroad in Brazil for 3 years, and done a variety of jobs both in offices and travelling around teaching languages).

I have a 2-year old daughter, who might well be the cause of some of the things I've caught recently. But I distinctly remember back to at least Christmas 2000 when I caught a particularly bad cold/flu, and it seems to have been a lot worse since that.

Make sure you take the flu vaccines EVERY YEAR as this seems to be a regular problem with you.  Of course, the flu vaccines only cover a few strains of the flu, but it should help.
Yes, I need to do this. The only cold/flu free period I had (for around 2 years) whether coincidental or not was when I was given a vaccine in Brazil - the doctor there gave me the vaccine immediately after I described the repeated colds/flus. She said it was a superior French vaccine (mentioned in my other post on this sub-forum).
Wash your hands regularly.  Gloves?
Certainly always after coming home from work and before cooking. I don't wear gloves.
Have you tried antivirals?
newbielink:http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/summary-clinicians.htm [nonactive]
They apparently do help reduce the duration of the symptoms somewhat.
No, the NHS have not suggested these (I'm in the UK).
You also didn't mention the use of:
decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines.  Talk to your doctor about what would help keep the nasal passages open.
I have been using Lemsip, which is a brand here that contains both paracetamol and decongestants. I didn't notice any particular relief.

When I was ill previously, around the 20th March, my sinuses because so painful they started to be a mixture of green phlegm and blood. Presumably due to the amount I was having to blow my nose to clear it. The scars within my nostrils have only just healed.
Have you ever had lab tests to confirm the flu (Influenza A/B)?
No, the NHS GP has not mentioned this.
Antibiotics are a tricky subject.  If you truly have the flu, caused by a virus, an antibiotic will be ineffective.  However, there is also risk of a secondary bacterial infection with sinusitis and bronchitis.
The last cold/flu I had, around the 20th last month, seemed to have a secondary infection - lots of green phlegm in the sinuses. The GP prescribed antibiotics based on a phone call. This time around there is less green phlegm, and the GP has post-dated the prescription 3 days. He is worried that I will develop immunity to the antibiotic, or presumably the bacteria will.

The antibiotic prescribed is Erythroped. If I take penicillin based antibiotics I feel mildly ill (stomach ache, slight pain all over, nauseous).

There is also a surgery that can help with sinusitis in some patients.  If sinusitis is a major debilitating portion of your illness, you may discuss the surgery with your physician.
I've never had great breathing, that is I've always been a little congested in my nose, but it hasn't been suggested here to have an operation.

When I explained to the GP that I've been ill with cold/flu for the last 25 out of 30 days he said this was normal. I explained further that I've had a cold/flu almost every month for the last year, including antibiotics last March (these were penicillin based, and I felt ill with them). Again he said this was normal, and nothing to worry about.

The single biggest problem is the muscular/joint pain. It is just incredibly painful and debilitating.
 

Offline SSR

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #3 on: 11/04/2012 19:56:56 »
To add: today I vomited three times. I put it down to taking paracetamol and ibuprofen when I first vomited, about 5 minutes after taking them. I then vomited around 2:30pm and 5pm (after I hadn't taken tablets).

After 5pm my temperature hit 40C/104F (we have an in-ear thermometer bought for our daughter) so I took another dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen. This has reduced the temperature - initially I felt freezing cold when at 40C, but have felt boiling hot subsequently. Presumably the paracetamol and ibuprofen disperse the heat (vasodilators?).

The GP prescribed me tramadol because I was in so much pain, but I read a side effect is fever. I only took tablets separately of this yesterday, because I was in so much pain. I have not taken it today.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #4 on: 11/04/2012 22:17:06 »
Ahhh...
It isn't surprising that you have both a young child and also work in a school...  Although I would have predicted that your child would have been a little older.  You might feel healthier with a career involving less contact with children.  Perhaps something with language translation, but I realize that would be a tough decision.  Family, of course, is a different issue, but you can practice good hygiene when your kid is sick.

Wash your hands frequently.  Certainly before every meal, when using the restroom, and perhaps during any "break" at school.

Sinusitis, of course, is more than a runny nose, but also tenderness, pain, or pressure in the bony part of the cheeks and forehead.  The surgery is only for severe chronic sinus infections, but it still might be worth discussing with your doctor.

Whew, 104F sounds like quite a high temperature, but generally not life threatening.  Keep an open mind for other diseases too.  Malaria usually has high temperatures, but few respiratory symptoms. 

Read about, and talk to your doctor about the antiviral meds above.  They aren't prescribed for every flu here...  but, should be considered when at risk of severe complications.  They are supposed to be most effective when started early in the course of the disease.  But, perhaps only decrease the duration of the sickness by a couple of days total.  Whether or not your doc mentioned them, that is why you are here, to get new ideas.

Certainly there are a variety of symptom relief meds that can be effective.  Perhaps no one is that much better than others.

Most cough syrup here contains Guaifenesin and Dextromethorphan. 
Pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine are also used as decongestants, although I've never been convinced they do much for myself.

Codeine is often used in prescription cough syrup, but otherwise, I would advise caution when using narcotics.  Use them when needed, not when not needed.

As far as antibiotic resistance, make sure you finish the full course of the medications.  I'm not sure if the risk of developing resistance is in the individuals or the community.  Resistance certainly is an issue, but use them if they are necessary.  Perhaps only if you already have a bad bronchial or sinus infection, but not for "prevention".
 

Offline SSR

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #5 on: 12/04/2012 15:06:41 »
Although I would have predicted that your child would have been a little older.
She is quite frequently ill, but usually it's limited to a runny nose.
Wash your hands frequently.  Certainly before every meal, when using the restroom, and perhaps during any "break" at school.
OK.
As far as antibiotic resistance, make sure you finish the full course of the medications.  I'm not sure if the risk of developing resistance is in the individuals or the community.  Resistance certainly is an issue, but use them if they are necessary.  Perhaps only if you already have a bad bronchial or sinus infection, but not for "prevention".
Yep, I always finish the course. And I definitely have the bacterial infection (thick green gloop that is both coughed up and from nose).

Today I have diarrhoea as well, so yet another symptom. Perhaps because my body is just so overwhelmed.

I'm not sure whether it's relevant but the palms and palm-side of my fingers are very dry and peeling skin, which they have been for 2 or so weeks now. Could it be another symptom of something different? I don't remember having this ever before.
 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #6 on: 13/04/2012 13:06:46 »
Vitamin D can help and, at this time of year (end of winter), your vitamin D levels will be at their lowest.

According to the European Food Standards Agency, vitamin D is needed for a normal functioning immune system.  And randomised control trials have shown that vitamin D is effectively against colds and flu.

You should be able to get a vitamin D test from your GP.  You need to get your vitamin D levels above at least 75 nmol (30 ng).

You get vitamin D from the sun (don't burn), from oily fish and from supplements (maximum recommended limit is 4000 IU/d).

I've got young children and since we all started supplementing with the vitamin D (I take 2500 UI/d), the number and duration of the colds / fevers that we have has dropped dramatically compared to previous non-vitamin D years.

 

Offline SSR

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #7 on: 13/04/2012 13:32:20 »
I've started taking a multi-vitamin - more out of clutching at straws than anything because I'm not a huge fan of the supplements industry, and I have what I think is a reasonable diet.

A friend believes that a zinc supplement helped her, but I need to check whether this multi-vitamin includes D as well.
 

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Re: Suffering Badly With Cold/Flu
« Reply #7 on: 13/04/2012 13:32:20 »

 

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