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Info on Fibromyalgia and cold and flu season

Nov 02, 2007 - 5 comments

For patients with Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS, catching a cold is fraught with dire risks. Consequences can include cold symptoms that are far more severe and last longer than in non-patients, but the scariest risk is that a cold can lead to an FM flare or full blown ME/CFS relapse.
Secondary bacterial infections are also of special concern to patients, and these frequently cause more trouble than the cold itself, often necessitating medical treatment to help deal with the ensuing chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, or pharyngitis. The usual course of action is prescription antibiotics, and although frequently effective in killing the bacterial culprit, antibiotics can exacerbate the digestive problems that already affect an estimated 80% of FM/ME/CFS patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome - IBS.

One can therefore easily understand the fear and anxiety a patient experiences at the first sign of an oncoming cold. To a patient, it means the possibility of several months of suffering.

Patients need to exercise extra caution in order to reduce this risk, and fortunately, there are some amazingly effective things you can do to stop a cold and prevent a relapse.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

It is helpful to be aware of a very important fact: The cold you catch will almost certainly come via the person you least suspect - you. Research has shown that cold viruses are usually spread by touching something that an infected person has recently touched. To reduce your chances of becoming infected, wash your hands frequently, and never touch your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes - unless your hands are sparkling clean.

The first thing you should do when you arrive home is wash your hands with soap and water, particularly if you have been out in public. This should become your ritual, and I think it is the single most important thing patients can do to improve their health. Ask family members and guests to do the same, and they will respect you for it. Your house is your sanctuary, and you need to keep it virus free.

Cold bugs can also hitch their way into your house on items that you have touched while you were out in public, including your cell phone and keys. Prevent this from happening by wiping these items down with a sanitizing hand wipe such as those made by Clorox and Lysol. It takes only 30 seconds, and this ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure.

But what if a cold virus penetrates this incredibly effective defense network? Here are some tricks of the trade - insights I believe I am qualified to share as an ME/CFS patient and owner of ProHealth and

Three Weapons in Your Drugstore or Grocery

Your arsenal requires only three weapons, all of which can be purchased at most major drugstores for about $10 each. And since a cold is like a wildfire - easy to deal with at first, but once it spreads, it’s probably too late - you will want to keep a supply of these on hand. If you think there is even the slightest possibility that you may be catching a cold, you need to employ all three immediately. Once the fuse is burning, you'll have a very short time to act, but if you hit it hard and fast within a few hours, in my experience you'll be able to stop it about 80% of the time.

Your first big gun is ZicamR Cold Remedy Nasal Gel (or Gel Swabs) - backed by impressive double blind research studies showing that it dramatically reduced the severity and duration of the common cold. It is hypothesized that the product’s ionic zinc disables common cold viruses (generally rhinoviruses) by preventing their ability to infect and re-infect cells. Regardless of the mechanism, the product is worth its weight in gold.

Zicam is sprayed or swabbed directly into each nostril at the first sign of a cold. Although it may cause a mild burning sensation for a minute of two, this is a good indication that a virus is indeed infecting your nose and making it more sensitive. Zicam does not cause this burning sensation unless the nasal tissue is raw.

A word of warning is in order: A small number of individuals have complained that Zicam has affected their sense of smell. My friends, family members, and I have used it with great success over the years and we have never experienced any problems. And research studies have not supported this claim. Nevertheless, if you are the cautious type, you should look into it.

Your second weapon is Zicam ‘Rapid Melts’, or Cold-EezeR throat lozenges. These products can be found in most drugstores in the cold care section, and provide ionic zinc in a very pleasant tasting form. Although both are backed by five or six published medical studies that prove their efficacy, I prefer the Rapid Melts because the lozenge dissolves and coats the mouth and throat in about two minutes; Cold-Eeze takes about 10 minutes.

Your third weapon, AirborneR, is available at most drug and grocery stores for about $9 and works as a potent immune stimulant. Although surprisingly effective at stopping a cold dead in its tracks, Airborne is not without at least some risks: Patients should be aware that immune system stimulants may cause a temporary worsening of FM/ME/CFS symptoms. Although this is temporary, Airborne may also cause wakefulness if taken late at night; patients should exercise caution and take the product only in the morning or afternoon.

I recommend prophylactic use of these products when the risk of catching a cold is high. Examples of these situations are air travel, social plans with someone who may have a cold, and living in a household where one of the family members is fighting a cold. I never fly without a quick application of Zicam, and it has served me well.

Even the best laid plans sometimes fail, and if you eventually succumb to a rare cold, you can delight in knowing that the vast majority of colds have passed you by and your health is all the better for it. In that case, get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids, use Zicam, Cold Eeze, and Airborne (which are not ProHealth products), eat lots of chicken noodle soup, and get to bed early.

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Avatar universal
by suezohh, Apr 23, 2008
I have the  flue from my adorable baby grandson, whom I offered to watch so mommy and daddy could go  to work. I am also a fibro/cf patient.  The biggest problem I had was the fact that I take a number of meds on a  daily basis, that shoud not be stopped (or thrown up) .  I took what I could, what I thought would give me the biggest problems. The duragesic patch, the effexor, and the lyrica.  I was thrilled I managed to keep  those down.  I started having horrendous anxiety---I thought perhaps the meds were not being processed. I got sick on a friday night--could not call pain mgmt doc, on sat when the bad symptoms started---it felt like a living hell.  my body was not just having flue symptoms my tummy was like convulsing and vibrating and the backs of my legs were like quivery pins and needles.  when i managed to fall asleep--for 40-60 min here and there had the most evil dreams. i could not think a healthy happy thougt, i am a woman of faith, and could not even come up  with a positive scripture, only  like"yea thou I walk thru the valley of  the shadow of death". And I was recalling everyone Ilve ever known who has passed on wondering if they felt this dark,. this bad, this lonely,bla,bla bla----so  you can see things were not good.
Sunday my hubby got sick.  I called my daughter and she brought over the soup, jelllo,  ginger ale and some rice for me, and walked the dog for us.  I tried to help my hubby, got him a bucket, asked how  he  was felling---thats about all I could  do. I was still having the hellascious  dreams, thought, worked so hard to keep changing that thought process---all sunday night---mon, the same--I checked my blood pressure it was 197 over 156 with bp of 111. Checked a few times with similar results.  started to become afraid.  called my pain doc, left a msg what was happening, could they call back to help me figure this out.  No return call for several hours---could not face another night like this.  Since moving to this area, have had a very  hard time finding docs. they are not taking patients or they ask me to fax  my records first---then reply they do not have experience with fibro, bla,bla...the last one I had got married and moved---the group she was with did not absorb her patients and there was no refferral from them. So we wen to an emergency walk in place, the wait was horriific for sick people. Next time i  will call an ambulance.
When I finally saw a dr he said he could not help me,. he was afraid to give me anything with the meds i take !!!!! he left the room to try to contact my pain doc with no luck---no answer with no one  on call....yea!!!!!!!!!!  when he came back in the room He said he really couldnt help me,  what did I want him to do!!!!  I wanted him to help me for God sake, i am not in a good  place, I have the flu, i would rather be dead than to live another day like this and the  dr wants me to be the doctor ACCCCHHHHHGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you Jesus, a thought came into my head, and I said that when I get my teeth done they give me little  yellow pills and these little drinks to calm me down, how bout that?  Turns out that must be valium. so he did write a scrip for three days or  so of  valium. I did ask for  a refferral for a  dr within thier sys and rec'd that.  Cant see him for over a wk---did talk to the office a my pain doc---no return call from the doctor.  Uuuurrrgggghhhhh.  was this a comment or a  book?

Avatar universal
by shawnee550, Jul 06, 2008
I have not had but one cold since being diagnosed with FM.  My soon as I get the "funny taste" in my throat that tells me I have come in contact with the virus, I do MEGA doses of Zinc, Echinacea & Vitamin C.  Within 3 days, all signs of the virus are gone.  It is important to do these together and as soon as possible.  I have found these ingredients combined in a small vile at local gas stations and party stores (go figure) called "immunity shot" but I haven't found them in a while so I don't know if they are available any more. Good luck and I pray this works for you as well as it has for me.

Avatar universal
by myjourney953, Jan 23, 2012
I am diagnosed with  fibromyalgia. Two days ago I ate something that caused diarrhea but my body produced such pain as I never felt possible.It felt like all my nerves and joints had gone in to full spasm. I took an overdose to knock me out. Now I feel that researchers might know why that was the case or that the information might help the research.

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by Tweetbella, Apr 28, 2014
I had a similar experience twice now and I can sympathize.  My daughter had the flu and because I was around her a lot I caught it.  I didnt start off with flu like symptoms though.  I am new to dealing with Fibromyalgia and so I have only been on Lyrica for a couple of months and noticed I am suffering depression now.  I was trying to slowly get off of it till I could talk to my doctor about how to take it safely.  The next day I started aching everywhere to the point that I felt like I wanted to end it myself.  When you experience pain to that degree and you havent slept more than 10 mins because your brain is still  going through things in your head and you cant turn it off.  The strength to push yourself through it is so difficult.  I have to say that I asked my fiance to drive me to the hospital cause I couldnt take it. But instead I went to family close family that understood me who know me and could talk to me about life and old times.  it helped me push through.  I still followed up with my doctor and seeing them tomorrow. But you need to find what brings you back up and push through.  There will always be ups and downs but its how we cope through that will get us by. I hope this helped others like me.  

Avatar universal
by LMRab, Sep 08, 2014
I just got over a bout of the flu. It started on Monday a week ago. I still occasionally run 99.2 temp and the body aches are killer. Is this typical for people with Fibro after catching the flu? I did not have the vomiting but every other symptom I had, just cannot seem to get rid of the body aches and negative thoughts.

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