Can You Have a Virus Without Sore Throat/Cough/Fever?
December 28, 2017 8:30 PM   Subscribe

I’ve been sick the last few days, but with one catch: no sore throat, runny nose, or fever. The only symptom is that I feel completely exhausted, and can sleep for 10 - 12 hours a day.

It’s exactly how I feel when conventionally “sick”, but without any of the other symptoms. This happens to me several times a year, and usually wears off after a few days of feeling pretty miserable.

People I know (including family members in medicine) say this could just be me “getting over” a virus. Even my doctor seemed unconcerned when I brought this up, roughly a year ago (going back soon).

I’m not necessarily asking for a diagnosis, just wondering if this is especially weird or abnormal. Can people get a virus without sore throat/cough/fever/etc? I'm pretty healthy otherwise, so this seems like it could be possible, I've just never heard of it before. Is there another semi-plausible explanation? Blood in work (in the past) has shown nothing seriously wrong.

About me: early 30’s, male, healthy eater, exercise often.
posted by AfterAlbuquerque to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know if it is abnormal for humans, but it happens to me 1-3 times a year and it's always when someone I've been in reasonably close contact with has been sick with a cold.

I've always assumed that it's something my body has seen before and thus is able to kill off before it gets too bad. That assumption is bolstered by the fact that that my lymph nodes in my neck are usually slightly swollen whenever that happens.
posted by wierdo at 8:53 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah. My coworker has small children, and a couple of years ago she tested positive for Strep but had no symptoms other than a vague sense of malaise, a short-lived fever, and a positive throat culture. She didn’t even miss work (but we did disinfect all the common surfaces). I was a little jealous, because every time I have strep it’s 1000% a hellscape.
posted by witchen at 9:41 PM on December 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


You can be expending a lot of energy fighting off an illness without actually having the full-blown illness. When this happens, treat yourself kindly, take extra B and D vitamins, get lots of protein, drink fluids, and rest as much as your body tells you to rest.

I'm guessing that your general good health and the fact that you're able to sleep 10-12 hours at a time when you start feeling "off" helps your body fight things off before they become symptomatic.

This definitely used to happen to me when I was younger and had time to take better care of myself. Now that 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep is my goal instead of a "holy wow, I'm not sleeping well" thing, I get truly, debilitatingly sick much more commonly.
posted by erst at 10:26 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is a stretch from the information given, but my first thought was mono.
posted by aws17576 at 11:47 PM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


If you have indeed spent time in New Mexico, especially as a trail runner, you might have been exposed to Valley Fever, which can have a relapsing, remitting character in the more severe cases, anyway.

For the small percentage of the 30-60% of the population which is exposed who actually do develop a clinical case, it feels like atypical flu.
posted by jamjam at 12:37 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


This happens to me. Usually I start getting more traditional symptoms after a few days of tiredness.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:41 AM on December 29, 2017


I've had this happen a couple of times
posted by crocomancer at 3:50 AM on December 29, 2017


You are me, right now, and for the past week or so.
posted by sourcequench at 7:47 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like you, I had this two weeks ago. Two days of sleeping most of the day and night and feeling absolutely awful, and I was able to contemplate work and food and being vertical and all of the good stuff of healthy living. I've had something similar several times, but it IS disconcerting.
posted by ldthomps at 8:02 AM on December 29, 2017


I'm not sure where you are but there's something like this going around on the east coast right now. If that's it, you'll likely have the regular cold symptoms sooner or later.
posted by advil at 8:37 AM on December 29, 2017


This is normally what happens to me instead of getting a cold - people around me will be sick, then I'll be suuuuuuuuper tired and have no other symptoms, then I'll be fine after a few days; I've always assumed that my immune system is fairly strong and has fought off whatever it is that everyone else had.

I tend to get an actual cold with traditional symptoms less than once a year, even when my coworkers all go through several bouts of several illnesses every winter, but I'll have the kind of tiredness you've described a couple times each year.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2017


I'm with aws17576, sounds like Mono
posted by PJMoore at 9:50 AM on December 29, 2017


Yes, sounds like mono... or if you've had mono already, it could be Epstein-Barr.
posted by feistycakes at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2017


My first thought was mono as well. A red flag for some people is swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the sides of the neck. If you're experiencing this, get tested asap. Test is generally a cheap and easy blood draw, and if this persists you'll want to go to the doctor anyway.
posted by leafmealone at 10:49 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sounds completely plausible to me. I only get ill every two or three years, and the last time I had a run in with a virus, it was similar to yours. In my case, the only symptom was a sudden—in the course minutes, thank goodness I was at home—terrifyingly total exhaustion. I remember stumbling to the sofa, so tired I actually had the scary thought I might not wake up, but too tired to do anything about it. Cue several hours later, wake up from the nap, stay exhausted a day or two, then ramped back to normal over the next few days. Co-workers reported similar experiences, longer lasting but less intense.

/Shrug. Creepiest fucking illness of my life. Only symptom was exhaustion.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2017


Yes, sounds like mono... or if you've had mono already, it could be Epstein-Barr.

Epstein-Barr is the virus that causes mono. It is possible (although I think quite rare) to get symptoms again if you have previously had it.
posted by nat at 11:16 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


This happens to me 1-2 times a year. Oddly seems to happen around 6-10 days after taking a flight. I wonder if the OP or other any other posters have noticed a correlation?
posted by jacobean at 12:22 PM on December 29, 2017


I had assumed that anyone with a good/decent immune system gets a "mild cold" about as often as others get the full-on cold. This has certainly been my experience since trying to be more healthy a few years ago*. I tend to get similar symptoms whenever something nasty is going through the office/society (I take public transit and work in an open office) and had just assumed this is pretty normal. Rarely get "sick sick" now.

* Guess it worked!
posted by love2potato at 7:04 PM on December 29, 2017


When I had similar symptoms years ago, I struggled through work for a month or so. Then word got around the office that one of our co-workers was on an extended sick leave with the same symptoms due to cytomegalovirus.

I went straight to the doctor and was tested. Test turned up positive. On doctor's orders I spent two straight weeks flat on my back, the six months working three hours a day (plus using sick leave) until I recovered. As a single mom, it was brutal. The only way I can describe it was "mono on steroids".

Hopefully this isn't what you have. But do get tested, because it takes some serious life accommodations to recover from.
posted by summerstorm at 11:55 PM on December 29, 2017


This is normally what happens to me instead of getting a cold - people around me will be sick, then I'll be suuuuuuuuper tired and have no other symptoms, then I'll be fine after a few days; I've always assumed that my immune system is fairly strong and has fought off whatever it is that everyone else had.
This is sort of what I was thinking. In this case my wife also came down with a more traditional cold/virus, but there are other times when it isn't always obvious that I've caught "something".
This happens to me 1-2 times a year. Oddly seems to happen around 6-10 days after taking a flight. I wonder if the OP or other any other posters have noticed a correlation?
Yes, I've definitely noticed a rough correlation to flying, although the number of days differs. Once it was the day after flying, another time several days (both this year). This is one of the things that makes me think I'm just fighting off a virus I picked up.

To the folks suggesting mono: certainly a possibility, but from experience I know this episode will pass within a few days. My worry in this regard is that I have (unknowingly) had mono or valley fever in the past, and that this is a recurrence. The driver here is the fact that I have been "sick" like this nearly a dozen times this year, which seems a bit high.
posted by AfterAlbuquerque at 7:13 AM on December 30, 2017


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