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low immunity
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low immunity

Does having hep c lower your immunity making you more susceptible to catching colds or viruses?
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16 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
yes it does. HCV will beat your immune system down trying to constently fight off the virus.
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Avatar_f_tn
My own experience is that my immune system was excellent while I had HCV and I had it for over forty years.

I only found out about my case by accident in 1995 and not because I had health problems; otherwise, I never would have known there was something 'wrong'.

I never took the flu shot until very recently, rarely got the flu and rarely got colds. I disagree that one is necessarily more susceptible because of HCV.

There are many reasons that people catch colds and flus. My younger son seemed to catch them all and didn't have HCV yet I didn't catch anything from him and did have HCV.  Go figure.
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Avatar_m_tn
Same as portann, rarely ever caught any thing. Wife, kids, grandkids would all have it. Never have had a flu shot. So for me i don't think having HCV makes a difference, and i'm also cirrhotic.
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Avatar_m_tn
not sure about catching colds & flu but immune system is definately affected by HCV.

white bloood count is typically lower if you have HCV

the fact that the HCV even becomes chronic is because of ones weak immune system.  

another example is a higher % of people with HCV get lymphoma because of weakend immune system.

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Avatar_m_tn
Hi slam, to my knowledge this has never been shown to be a problem for the average person with HCV. To be sure  our immune systems can be lowered thereby allowing the oppty for more infections to occur as noted above by copyman. Having  HCV infection though does not necessarily mean it is a given that you can't defend against another type of virus just as efficiently as anyone else who is not infected with HCV. Despite a lack of studies in this area I would think by now there would be quite a bit of anecdotal evidence amassed if any significant differences existed in the infection rates for colds and flu in those with HCV.- ML


all- Its been established for years that chronicity is a result of both viral and host factors, not one or the other. If you consider only appx 20% of those infected resolve spontaneously then does it necessarily follow that the other 80% are immune deficient ? I don't believe so as many healthy people over the last 20 years have acquired HCV in its chronic form. HCV itself does not kill hepatocytes directly-- but rather through the host-mediated immune responses directed towards the virus. It is our immune responses that are actually creating the inflammation and eventually the death of our liver cells. One could argue from this point of view then, that a person with a weaker immune system may actually be better off than someone with a stronger immune response if chronicity develops. I don't think it is as simple as this of course. I believe there are some 30 different immune pressures are that produced by our innate and adaptive immune systems in response to HCV infection. Out of these various responses about 8 are different antigens that are produced by our adaptive immune system to specifically act against HCV. They have studied those who clear spontaneously and  those who do not resolve their infection and they have noticed there are some  significant differences in immune responses between the two groups. Despite these observations so far there is still no clear line which points to any particular weaker immune response as the exclusive reason for the development of chronic HCV just as no link has been found that suggests the minority who do clear spontaneously do so exclusively as a result of  stronger immune responses. There are virus-mediated factors that have to be considered in assessing responses to HCV infection that are too numerous to detail here, but I think most of us have read of some of these at one time or another. The different SVR rates between genotypes points to the importance and influence that virus-mediated factors can have on the success of resolving infection in its chronic form and even in the presence of immuno-modulation using SOC. ML
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Avatar_f_tn
My personal experience with HCV and immunity is this:

Over the past 20 years, my white blood cell count has been below normal but my docs never bothered to mention it to me (I found this out after I was dx'd with HCV and I researched my old medical records).  During all those years of low white blood cell counts, I was never sick.  No colds, no flu...nothing.  Boggles my mind.

So, yes, HCV was lowering my immunity by way of lowering my WBCs because they were stressed from continually battling HCV, but I still was able to fight off the routine colds and flus that everyone around me got.
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179856_tn?1333550962
Yes it does lower your immune system as per the reasons noted all above.  You have to make sure that you wash your hands frequently as possible - I found that this really did make a huge difference in the amount of sickness that I came down with.  I hadn't really believed it prior to my 'testing' it out but it helps.

Also like at work don't let people use your phone or pens (it's hard people always grab stuff like it's theirs) and if they do make sure you wash it down with some antibacterial wipes.

If you do things like this it will lower the chance of picking up any cold virus' and stuff so although your immune system is actually lower and taxed from fighging off the virus - you will seem to be more healthy than you were before!

I know it sounds crazy but it does work.

Also the antibacterial hand stuff is very good to use too especially during cold and flu fever. You'd be shocked at how many things you actually touch a day without realizing (like I said I only realized once i was on treatment and was purposefully trying to avoid bannisters and bathroom doorknobs etc. - then I noticed stuff like elevator buttons...little things you never think about!)

I sure sound very OCD but.......it works.
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971268_tn?1253204399
Antibacterial hand stuff is no more effective at removing bacteria than normal hand-washing, and it ends up in our water and soil, causing "super-bugs" that are resistant to most available antibiotics. So please, yes, wash your hands often, with warm water and soap, but don't use antibacterial products unless you're in a hospital setting where they tell you to do so.
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717272_tn?1277594380
I suspect it has something to do with your own production of interferon.  Those whose bodies actively fight the virus all along are pretty well equipped to also fight colds and viruses.  Those who don't have strong production in response to HCV, don't resist other viruses any better.

When I was on TX, I got flu shots, etc., anyway, but I knew that no virus could possibly live in my body while I was cranking out high levels of interferon and also adding extra every week.  I was pretty disappointed to get a cold 7 mos. post-TX.  Guess my cold-free days are over now that I'm not making or adding extra IFN.
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Avatar_m_tn
I didn't notice any immune issues associated with HCV. I was cold and flu free for 12 years while infected with Hep C.

ML: I too believe that the host mediated immune response is primarily responsible for liver injury. However, the following abstract casts some doubt on the idea that the virus itself is not cytopathic to some degree.

Epub 2009 Jan 16.

Genomic analysis reveals a potential role for cell cycle perturbation in HCV-mediated apoptosis of cultured hepatocytes.

Walters KA, Syder AJ, Lederer SL, Diamond DL, Paeper B, Rice CM, Katze MG.

Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.

The mechanisms of liver injury associated with chronic HCV infection, as well as the individual roles of both viral and host factors, are not clearly defined. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that direct cytopathic effects, in addition to immune-mediated processes, play an important role in liver injury. Gene expression profiling during multiple time-points of acute HCV infection of cultured Huh-7.5 cells was performed to gain insight into the cellular mechanism of HCV-associated cytopathic effect. Maximal induction of cell-death-related genes and appearance of activated caspase-3 in HCV-infected cells coincided with peak viral replication, suggesting a link between viral load and apoptosis. Gene ontology analysis revealed that many of the cell-death genes function to induce apoptosis in response to cell cycle arrest. Labeling of dividing cells in culture followed by flow cytometry also demonstrated the presence of significantly fewer cells in S-phase in HCV-infected relative to mock cultures, suggesting HCV infection is associated with delayed cell cycle progression. Regulation of numerous genes involved in anti-oxidative stress response and TGF-beta1 signaling suggest these as possible causes of delayed cell cycle progression. Significantly, a subset of cell-death genes regulated during in vitro HCV infection was similarly regulated specifically in liver tissue from a cohort of HCV-infected liver transplant patients with rapidly progressive fibrosis. Collectively, these data suggest that HCV mediates direct cytopathic effects through deregulation of the cell cycle and that this process may contribute to liver disease progression. This in vitro system could be utilized to further define the cellular mechanism of this perturbation."

Mike

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179856_tn?1333550962
but don't use antibacterial products unless you're in a hospital setting where they tell you to do so. "

I am not talking about soap I am talking about the stuff you use when you cant get to soap and water - the stuff they put in the dispensers by elevators for example.  That much isn't going to get into the soil that it harms anything but it could keep you safe from the virus.

Anybody who has actually done treatment fully understands how desperately bad you feel already and getting sick on top of it all certainly isn't something you want to happen.  Especially with such communicable things like that H1N1 scare - it's not worth the chance when you can be proactive and do something to help.

I am glad I took my doctors advice.  He in fact said not to shake hands with anyone - so I didn't. I rarely even do now unless it's completely called for.  God knows where those hands have been!

Oh by the way I do have anti-bac soap at home - in the kitchen and the bathroom because it seems much more sanitary than using some Dawn Dish Detergent after I cut up some chicken or something.  But I recycle everything and use mostly sulfate free products - even sulfate free shampoo!  I think that'd offset the tiny bit of antibacterial soap I might use.  I'm really not that OCD I just don't want to get sick any longer if I don't have to!
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971268_tn?1253204399
NYgirl, sure, if you can't wash your hands it makes sense in those situations.  But I'm still going to advocate regular hand soap for your kitchen and bath instead of the antibacterial stuff.... I know, sorry, I should shut up.  :)
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been advised by doctors to keep some antibacterial gel available always, not just in the hospital.  The VNA routinely distributes it for those of us with compromised immune systems who have to have contact with environmental surfaces without ready access to soap and water.  The risk of infection from coming into contact with  doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucets in public restrooms, etc, is sufficient that medical professionals advocate use of the stuff, and that is good enough for me.
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179856_tn?1333550962
I was pretty disappointed to get a cold 7 mos."

How many people have ended treatment and gotten sick and posted in here thinking they relapsed?  I think its pretty common for us all to have that wonderful immunity on tx - too bad we can't hold up levels of IFN forever........  :)
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179856_tn?1333550962
But I'm still going to advocate regular hand soap for your kitchen and bath instead of the antibacterial stuff...."

I just think stuff like bar soap is a really good way to spread germs and after being sick for so many years - I'm afraid of germs and find them very very yucky and want them to leave me alone.

God I sound like a fruitcake but.............it's true.  I don't even want the flu again or even a bad cold.  Not likely to get that lucky but I'll do whatever it takes to not feel like I'm on treatment with anemia having a bad day.
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