Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
common colds
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common colds

On average, i get a cold maybe twice a year, and i never go to the doctor for it. Whats he going to say? "take 2 tylenol and get plenty of rest" Wich i do anyways, and im usualy fully recorvered in like 2 days.
I just started getting a cold yesterday, and my best friend swears that i need to go to the doctor, or im going to be sick for 2 weeks like he was about a month ago. He is usualy sick all winter long, he makes countless visits to the doctors, always comming home with some new perscription of some sort. He tells me all those visits are what keeps him healthy the rest of the year, but i seem to think the exact opposit. Couldnt all those trips to the doctors, and all the meds he takes, make him more suseptible to getting sick, since his own immune system isnt used to fighting off illness by itself?  We've been arguing over this for years, and any help someone could give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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This is not an easy question.  Generally, visits to the doctor do not affect your immune system!!  In addition, appropriate medicine for infections does not affect the immune system.  Over time inappropriate antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics by causing the germ to develop resistance to antibiotics that have already been taken.  Steroids can directly affect the immune system.

For you, the best advice would be to seek medical care when the usual upper respiratory tract infection either does not go away or gets severe.  Both of these things would indicate that it is not just a "common cold".
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, the fight for the common cold has been a loooong drawn out battle...and to this day, we haven't made much progress towards solving it.

The cold is caused by a virus. When you get one particular cold virus, your body will fight it and make its own antibody. The next time that same virus enters your body, its immediately killed off with the antibody so it won't wreak havock like the first time it did. Problem is, scientists have counted over 200 cold viruses! This is why its like a never ending battle throughout all our lives. Babies and children are more suseptible to cold infections than adults, because their "antibody library" is pretty much empty! Ever notice how kids always have the sniffles! Old folks are suseptible as well, and this is becasue their imune systems are not as strong.

Viruses, unlike bacteria, don't respond to antibiotic treatment. So, all those medications your friend is taking is a complete waste of money, and resources. Doctors are now cracking down on uneccessary antibiotic prescriptions. They are now simply recommending to treat colds symptomatically. Plain and simple. Runny nose? Take an antihistamine. Sore throat? Any numbing spray will soothe it. Headache? Take a Tylenol. And the list of symptoms goes on. Antibiotics simply do nothing. Some studies have shown that taking Zinc and Vitamin C suppliments can help boost the immune response, hence a shorter duration of being sick.

Hope this helps...

-Andy,RRT,CPFT
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Avatar_n_tn
THanks, that does help alot.
But i guess my secondary question would be:
Does always treating every little symptom of a cold all year long with antihistimines and all that stuff, eventualy cause your immune system to rely on them in some way?
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Avatar_n_tn
I wouldn't be popping pills every time I sniffled or sneezed. But in a sense, every medication has its ups and downs. Medications are metabolized by eiether the liver or kidneys. I can't say that such cold medications will cause the immune system to be more dependandt on them, but taking these meds on a regular basis may not be so good for the liver or kidneys.

-Andy

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