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Person's with MS fighting off simple infections...
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Person's with MS fighting off simple infections...

From what I have read on this forum, by those that have MS, they have said that they seem to be able to fight off simple infections and actually do not get sick as often as the general population.

I am one of those people that rarely gets sick.  Is it the MS at work?  Is my immune system over-active?  If I understand MS correctly, our immune systems concentrate on the central nervous system only.  It sees the myelin as foreign tissue that must be attacked and "eaten."  (destroyed)  Throw in something as simple as a cold or alot of stress and the immune system seems to kick itself into higher gear and gobbles even more myelin.  Known as an MS Relapse.

Does anyone believe that our immune systems actually protect us from contracting colds, the flu, etc., more efficiently than if we did not have MS?  I am one person that believes that even though we say that MS is confined to the CNS, I believe that my entire immune system is in high gear when the cold germ for instance, tries to attack my nostril.  I may actually get sick, but I don't seem to suffer very long and am over it quickly.  Comparong it to the general population as a whole now. (without MS)

There is much that has been written that says this theory does not hold water.  But what is your opinion?  Do you seem to get sick less often than the general public?

Add in the effects of the DMD's which is suppose to give our immune system something to fight besides our central nervous you believe that this throws our immune systems out of whack to fight common infections and such?  I vote no.  I do not believe that the DMD's lower my resistance to common infections.  Do any of you believe otherwise?

I am just trying to get a sense of what other's experience in their course with MS?  Do you find that you fight off minor infections more easily or do you think you are just as prone to them as you were, before you were diagnosed with MS?

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8 Comments Post a Comment
198419 tn?1360245956
Not sure, and knocking on wood inbetween key-strokes, here....I'm usually good.  Do not get laid up from horrifying colds.  Not so sure if it this supports the overactive immune system theory, or if I've just been exposed enough to varying germs and have developed an immune to them or what.

Either way, it's thought provoking, and I understand your reasoning here.  The only thing I've blamed unfairly on the DMDs is some stupid cold sores I seem to get now on my nose when it's been runny or over blown from sinuses.  I have nothing to support that - just blame it on the meds, and I shouldn't since they are protecting me...

Think I've fought off minor infections about the same as pre-dx..

Avatar f tn
Good question, Heather. I don't have any 'before and after' experience to relate. I've always pretty healthy and very unlikely to catch whatever is going around. I've gotten to this advanced age and that hasn't changed. Many many moons ago when I'd go to my doctor for a check-up I'd start by saying, "I'm the healthiest patient you have!" and I probably was. MS is the only serious thing I've ever contended with (except for a bout of pneumonia in 1996), and I've been spared most of the less serious stuff too. That hasn't changed in the short time (13 months) that I've had the diagnosis.

Recently I commented here that I've concluded that the oral steroid taper I had (for allergies) left me open to the flu-like bug I caught right after that. The bug, in turn, caused the MS flare I'm still having now. I don't think Avonex figures in all of this at all. I really don't know much about how our immune system works. Mine certainly seems to be out of the ordinary, and whether that was protecting me all these years till it went haywire I just don't know.

Have a good one!

338416 tn?1420049302
No real clue here.  I've had a sore that wouldn't heal for three months, even with daily applications of iodine and anti-bacterial ointment.  (Finally healed up a month ago!)  I just got a cold recently, and was over it in four days - very strange, as it usually takes me more like two weeks.

However, the last time I had the flu, I was out for a week, and then had a relapse.  

I think the problem here isn't that our immune systems are over-active, or in-active.  It's the T-cells in our immune system that are programmed wrong, so that they attack the myelin and axons rather than the invaders.  My t-cells attack my melanin too (vitiligo) which is another auto-immune disease, but a pretty benign one.  
147426 tn?1317269232
My understanding is that we have "normal" immune systems in terms of fighting off infections.  We are never immune-suppressed nor do we have "super capable" immunes systems.  That fits with me.  I haven't had as much as a cold in the last several years.

ess is correct about the temporary immune-suppression due to high-dose steroids.

Avatar f tn
I can't really lend my experience since I seem to get every bug that blows by, and have laways since I was a baby. continue along the same lines, I have been really wondering about the effects of an independent sickness on someone with MS. It seems that when I get sick, it lasts longer and my nuerologic symptoms come out of the wood work.  If the theory above is that becuase our immune systems normally function at a higher level, than why would I be sicker longer?

Food for thought.

755322 tn?1330272714
I agree with Heather.

I never get sick. I can recall having the flu once in my 53 years even with lots of exposure! I faked it a few times to use up some sick days at work, though :) I think my immune system is always in overdrive and when it finally got bored it started attacking my CNS, hence the MS.

My naturopathic doctor says MS an immune system problem caused by toxicity made better by detoxing the body and modulating and retraining the immune system with supplements and behaviour modification.  The more I read, the more I have to agree with him, and not the Neuros. Medications make the issue worse.

Being a type A personality, very physically (previously) and mentally active means a type A immune system?

An example, over Christmas, even recovering from double mastectomy, with a house full of flu fallen family members, all I got was a day of the sniffles! I had not been diagnosed with MS yet, and know now I was in full throes of a flare, but still didn't get sick. I actually got to feeling a bit better than usual. Could my immune system have been distracted from the myelin munching process to deal with the real germs?

My goal now is to repair my immune system by eating better and reducing stress and, in particular, retraining my sleep habits.

335728 tn?1331418012
Good to hear from you honey!  I just completed a run of IV steroids and prior to that I have been having a lot of sinus problems.  Well, I thought that I was starting to clear up in the head...then I had the steroids...then hubby brought home a cold...and now I am back where I started from!  I have been having sinus trouble since New Year's Eve with really no let up but no other symptoms of having a cold...go figure.  

As you know I am not on any DMD's but prior to the problem starting Dec. 31st...I really have not been "sick" with a cold or flu at all!  Makes one wonder doesn't it?

572651 tn?1333939396
I work in a hot bed of germs - college campuses are run amuck with everything imagineable.  

Now I do wash my hands all the time and don't touch bare door knobs, but I'm not sure that's enough to keep me healthy.  I have had two cold/viruses during almost 10 years here.  

Before then I worked in a middle school for ten years and their germs are even worse.  And I was never sick then either.  

Your thinking about MS and our immune system is an interesting one.

Wouldn't it be nice to think there was at least one positive thing to come out of having MS?

be well,

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