I keep almost-getting colds. Or is it something else?
April 1, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I've been getting that coming-down-with-a-cold feeling a lot lately, but it hasn't turned into a cold. Is my immune system super effective against cold viruses, or is there some other explanation?

YANAD, YANMD. I'm not concerned about this, but I am curious.

The day before I get a full-blown cold, I often get a hint that it's coming: there's a slight itchy/prickly/sore feeling in the back of my nasal passages and throat, and sometimes I'll have very faint, intermittent cold symptoms like an occasionally-runny nose, slight headache, fatigue, etc.

Sometimes, though, my symptoms don't progress past this stage, and after a day or two I'm back to normal. Recently, this has been happening to me more often than usual. I hadn't thought to keep track of it, so I'm not sure how long it's been going on or how frequently it's happened, but it seems like it's been once every couple of weeks for the past few months. (I started feeling this way on the way to work this morning, and my first thought was "again??")

I figured I've just caught and beat several colds, but this has been so common lately that I'm wondering if something else is going on.

I have no known environmental allergies, and it doesn't seem to be environmentally triggered. I usually get one or two colds a year, though I don't really keep track. I don't remember having a full-blown cold since last spring. Overall I am in good health.

Not sure if this is related, but in case it is: I do have a couple of lymph nodes on my neck that are about the size of peas. I had them checked out last fall - no other symptoms at the time - and my doctor wasn't alarmed. I don't know if they've stayed swollen since then or if they've gone down and then back up. For all I know my lymph nodes might have been like this for years. Since then I've had a complete checkup and everything is ok.

Could this be anything other than a series of brief run-ins with cold viruses? Is there anything I should be on the lookout for?
posted by Metroid Baby to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Allergies can develop. I didn't realize that I had allergies until I was 21, but they because severe enough that I take daily medicine year-round now. If I don't take my medicine, I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.

IANAD, but my guess is you have some allergies that you're not aware of. Since it's spring, maybe they're pollen allergies. As I mentioned, you can develop allergies later than you'd think. And the air quality isn't the same year to year - maybe you're mildly allergic to a certain plant, and this year that plant is spreading an unusual amount of pollen. Or have you moved your residence or workplace recently? Indoor spaces can contain different allergens or more allergens. My allergies are worse on the days I go to the office than when I'm working at home.
posted by Tehhund at 10:38 AM on April 1, 2011

I was also going to suggest allergies.

Try taking some claritin and see if that clears it up.
posted by empath at 10:42 AM on April 1, 2011

Yeah, sounds like seasonal allergies. I didn't develop hay fever until well into my late 30s and for the first two years I was so unfamiliar with the symptoms that I thought I had mild recurring colds of very short duration.
posted by jamaro at 10:43 AM on April 1, 2011

Yup, I developed allergies in my twenties. I started feeling like crap early one spring, and then the next spring when it happened again, one of my close friends remembered that the same thing had happened at the same time the previous year*, and it's happened every year since!

*And every time I think of that, I wonder if she's really observant or I'm really whiny.
posted by amarynth at 10:56 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

When you first get those hints of impending sickness, try using a neti pot to flush out your nasal cavity. It's very effective to stave off cold and allergy symptoms, plus it's safe enough to use daily if you like the results and are having chronic mild problems.
posted by illenion at 11:28 AM on April 1, 2011

I don't think it's allergies, but it's worth finding out for sure. I doubt it's hay fever since pollen season hasn't started here yet, and this has been going on during the winter.

In fact - this is totally out of left field and possibly crazy - but is it possible to be allergic to snow? It's been snowier than usual this winter. It snowed last night, and I've got the slightly-sick feeling today.

(amarynth, I am the same about observing patterns in myself - I often don't notice things that I go through regularly until someone else points it out.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:47 AM on April 1, 2011

Could be indoor allergies, dust mites or some such. Does your heater kick on more when it's cold enough to snow? Or kick on after being off for a few days? Maybe dust that has settled gets put into the air all at once and that's irritating. Or maybe your furnace needs a new air filter.

(I don't think you can be allergic to the snow itself, though. But you could become more sensitive when it's cold, or maybe the extra snow this winter is making some plant/fungus/whatnot grow more than usual..)
posted by nat at 12:08 PM on April 1, 2011

For a couple years I was getting allergies starting in February! And in central IL, there's not really any plant life in February. I figured that it has something to do with the old radiator system at work. Maybe the heat turning on is throwing out accumulated dust from the radiators.
posted by sbutler at 12:11 PM on April 1, 2011

If it's been snowier than usual all that moisture could be making it moldier than usual, and a mold allergy can also explain your symptoms.
posted by COD at 12:54 PM on April 1, 2011

Are you having the sore throat first thing in the morning when you wake up? Maybe your bedroom is too dry, or you're dehydrating overnight because of too many blankets or something. I get the same thing but it goes away once I drink my morning coffee.
posted by bink at 1:26 PM on April 1, 2011

I don't think you can be allergic to snow, but you could be allergic to other things that go along with snow, like using a down comforter, dust in the heaters, mold in the humidifier, etc. It could also be an allergy to flowers you've bought or houseplants at other people's houses (that would explain the way the symptoms come and go).

For what it's worth, my "spring" allergies always start in mid-February, when it's still very cold and I would swear nothing's growing yet.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:16 PM on April 1, 2011

Getting too little sleep - on the order of five hours - and dry air both cause "pre-cold" symptoms in me.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 5:56 PM on April 1, 2011

To my knowledge, the symptoms haven't been showing up when I wake up; it's usually been later in the morning. There have been several days when I've started feeling gross at work and thought, "if I'd known I'd be feeling like this I would have stayed home." Or, "if I'm feeling like this tomorrow morning I'll stay home," and then the next morning I feel okay. Yesterday it started about the same time I got on the T in the morning and persisted through the workday. I feel pretty normal today.

So if it is allergies, it's likely caused by something indoors that isn't in my house.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:56 AM on April 2, 2011

« Older Where can I find the right tuning pegs for a...   |   How to deal with toxic friends/ex-classmates when... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.