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Thread: Can people postpone colds and flus?

  1. #1 Can people postpone colds and flus? 
    Time Lord
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    It seems we do. We'll have no time for illness so we just keep going: no fever, no runny nose or any other symptoms yet we sense we've "got it coming". Then when we're ready we get walloped. People I know take it for granted that illness can be put off, at a price. How's it possible?

    Maybe related: My wife and I have noticed that over eight years of raising a child, not once have both of us been ill. Yet we're most certainly exchanging germs. Before the baby we'd get sick simultaneously with the same thing. Now we take turns.

    Also, can people accelerate the progress of an illness?


    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    There is a simple way of postponing colds and flue. Don't catch them in the first place.

    My wife used to be a school teacher. She came home regularly with some infection or other, which she kindly passed on to me. She is now retired (sadly, I am not!), and both of us remain disgustingly healthy year in and year out. Avoiding infection is the way.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Senior Kukhri's Avatar
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    If you could temporarily make your body impervious to viruses, why would you ever get sick at all? Virus are deadly and your body does not resist them based on convenience.

    You and your wife may not be getting sick simultaneously because certain viruses have differing incubation periods. The common cold has an incubation period of 2 to 5 days. Your wife may transmit the pathogen late in the illness, then recover before you become symptomatic.
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  5. #4  
    Time Lord
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    I'm thinking that one's immune system may employ different strategies, not only tailored to the particular pathogen but also regulated by the state of the system as a whole. So Wednesday's immune response may not be the best response on Saturday, given exactly the same germ under different conditions.

    I'm thinking that besides their individual complexities, germs employ general strategies analogous to, say, video game strategies like zerging ("a fast attack intended to overwhelm an unprepared opponent") vs. turtling, camping, booming, harassing, etc. Each pathogen as far as I know must employ whatever strategy it's programed to, but does that mean our own responses must follow predetermined script (cued by the pathogen) regardless of broader conditions? What happens when you have multiple infections with different growth curves? Does the body just flat-out stretch resources against all equally? Is there such a thing as immune budgeting?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Apart from avoiding infection, the best way of avoiding illness is vaccination. It may even be that vaccination against one pathogen may provide resistance against another. There is the curious fact that those who were vaccinated against smallpox appear to be less likely to get melanoma. A curiosity.

    Certain flu vaccines provide protection that goes beyond the flu viruses they are targetting. Swine flu is a killer of the young and the very old (and the obese). The reason those in the middle age group are not dying may be because of flu epidemics 30 to 60 years ago, which have conferred some immunity to those who were alive to experience them. Even casual contact with those old flu viruses which did not lead to symptoms, may have been enough to provide some protection against swine flu.

    My advice is to accept any vaccines that are offered. It may give you greater protection than you realise.
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord
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    I'm not asking for how-to medical advice here. Please re-read. Thanks.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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