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Why am I getting sick so much this year?
May 1, 2011 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Why am I getting sick so often this year?

You are not my doctor, etc :) Anyway, I am currently suffering through my fourth cold of the year. Hardly deadly, but I have always been someone who never gets sick, so I am not sure why I suddenly am picking up every bug that goes around. There are some mitigating factors---I work with small children and I don't have the best sleep habits. But those factors have been true for several years now :)

So, is there something special about this year---weird weather, some kind of superbug, whatever? Years of bad habits finally catching up with me? Or....?
posted by JoannaC to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not an answer exactly but some corroboration: I never get sick either, and I got three terrible colds in the last four months. Two lasted 10 or more days. Superbug?
posted by contessa at 7:13 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is your cold actually an allergy? Mayo Clinic: cold versus allergies.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 7:14 PM on May 1, 2011


I work with small children and I don't have the best sleep habits. But those factors have been true for several years now

Small children = vectors for exposure to viruses.

Poor sleep habits = lowered ability to fight off and recover from illness.

These may have been true for several years now, but that just means that you are older now than when you started. At some point, your body's ability to deal with repeated exposure to illness, couple with reduced or erratic sleep, begins to decline.
posted by googly at 7:16 PM on May 1, 2011


If you're like me, you catch one cold, it turns into a stealthy sinus infection, and it renders you vulnerable to getting further colds due to a compromised immune system.

Have there been noticeable breaks between colds? If you've never completely regained your energy and there's a strong stuffy sinus component, I'd consider going to a doctor.
posted by mikeh at 7:33 PM on May 1, 2011


Our children's pediatrician mentioned at the last visit that it has been the worst winter/spring in his memory for illnesses, just awful. We've had at least three really bad colds in our house, including one where we all had five days of fever, even the adults. I hadn't had a fever with a viral illness for 10 years, I think. So anyway, a particularly bad cold/flu season could explain your sequence of colds. Hope you feel better soon!
posted by palliser at 7:33 PM on May 1, 2011


Small children and lack of sleep are both good bets for factors that up your chances to get sick. I am in similar circumstances, and was similarly finding myself getting sick lots this year and also taking FOREVER to get over run of the mill colds. It turns out I was Vitamin D deficient on top of the regular stuff. After a couple of weeks of supplements, I felt much, much better. Might be worth running by your doctor.
posted by goggie at 7:40 PM on May 1, 2011


Are you on any medication? I was always the one who never got sick (and my mom is an elementary school teacher so was always bringing home disease) until I started taking drugs for a chronic condition. Ever since then, I get colds all the time. I think it has to be related to my meds.
posted by phunniemee at 7:43 PM on May 1, 2011


Thanks for the commiseration. Mikeh, I think there has been a break, but preceding the actual arrival of the cold, there has been about a week of extreme tiredness/feeling like I am fighting something before it finally hits. Twice, I seemed to get better during this time, thought I had it licked, and then the cold descended.

Goggie, I have trouble with supplements. I have IBS and any sort of vitamin pill for some reason backs me up like crazy. I'll look into adding some foods with vitamin D though.

Mitigating factor #3: my doctor's wife was just diagnosed with cancer, it's a very aggressive kind and he has been in all the papers. I am not sure how available he's going to be, or what sort of mood he'll be in. He has in the past been grumpy with me when he feels I am not doing what I'm supposed to be. I think going in and being snitted at to just wash my hands more often and leave him alone will not help in this situation.
posted by JoannaC at 8:45 PM on May 1, 2011


Consider stress. And the vicious circle of the stress caused by this cycle of illness. Also, a huge, huge factor in stress is inadequate sleep (often counteracted via lots of caffeine, which also increase stress).

I'd work to really normalize all my cycles for a while....sleeping, eating, exercising. Make things real simple for your body, which will ease some strain and let circadian rhythms reestablish.

But first, you may be able to break this cycle by some really aggressive sleeping. Sleep at night with ear plugs to help get uninterrupted sleep, then take naps during day, spent mostly in couch or bed. Get so much sleep that it's actually uncomfortable, and you feel dreary and as if you're in a fugue state. Really go excessive for two days in a row. Don't go out. Be a zombie, and spend all day drifting in/out of sleep.

The reason this helps is that sleep scientists have found that you have a sleep debt - a built up backlog of inadequate sleep that needs to be caught up on. Also, this sort of malarial patchy sleep seems to do some sort of reset, I've found.

After a couple days of this, go for normalization of all cycles.

This always works when I find myself in your shoes, as I do every few years.

Also work on stress, generally. It's bad for you, as you're discovering. Try yoga, tai-chi, meditation, and also vigorous exercise.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:23 PM on May 1, 2011


Every year there are more people. Therefore, every year there are more colds going around and every year they get easier to catch.
posted by flabdablet at 11:08 PM on May 1, 2011


So I am 50-ish ...
I don't catch everything that comes around these days, it's obvious. Now and again I catch a bad one, usually before the "masses" do. Sometimes it's pretty ugly. If that, around 6 weeks later, the rest of the world catches the same cold (that's what I think but don't know) but it is less debilitating (seems to me).
I think you are being personally challenged by a bunch of bugs. If you are healthy enough your immune system will take them down, and later in your life you will have already dealt with them (like me) and most will just glance off you.
There's not that much you can do about the onslaught except get through the episodes of illness.
I am not a doctor or nurse of humans, I write only as a human sufferer of many viral exposures!
posted by bebrave! at 1:44 AM on May 2, 2011


Mitigating factor #3: my doctor's wife was just diagnosed with cancer, it's a very aggressive kind and he has been in all the papers. I am not sure how available he's going to be, or what sort of mood he'll be in. He has in the past been grumpy with me when he feels I am not doing what I'm supposed to be. I think going in and being snitted at to just wash my hands more often and leave him alone will not help in this situation.

Is there any way you can switch to a different doctor? There are enough out there who will take you seriously that you don't need to accommodate your doctor's mind (understandably) not being on your case.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:15 AM on May 2, 2011


I don't know where you live, but at least in the PNW, it's been a shitty, shitty winter for illnesses. Between my husband, myself, and our two children, we've gone through six Z-packs. We've had pinkeye and pneumonia and sinus infections and croup and ear infections. The baby was born in November and is currently rocking his eleventh cold. The pneumonia nearly landed me in the hospital.

Sometimes it's just a shitty winter.
posted by KathrynT at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2011


You work with kids? Childcare centers and schools are well known to be vectors for disease. Have their been any changes to the number of kids that you look after at once? Or maybe you have to look after more younger kids with higher needs - need nose to be blown etc.
posted by ultrabuff at 11:06 PM on May 2, 2011


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