Tips to avoid the Flu and improve immune system - Please!

dominicw78 Member Posts: 2
edited 24. Feb 2015, 10:04 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi there,

I suffer from reactive arthritis, however fortunately it has only occurred 3 times and fairly mildly compared to other cases I've heard off.

Each flare up was shorter than the last the first, 6 to 9 months, then 1 to 2 months then 1 to 2 weeks. The last time being 4 years ago now.

It's as if my body has worked out not to react to the catalyst, that's how it seems to me.

However as result, I've noticed my immune system has become incredibly weak. Each winter I get about 6 Flus, not colds, proper week long Flus, were you're bed ridden for a few days.

Being that I have autoimmune disorder, I believe it's no coincidence that after getting reactive arthritis suddenly my immune system is no longer functioning properly.

I'm not on any medication which could be the culprit.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for improving your immune system?


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,730
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi there Dominic and welcome to the forum.

    Well, that does all sound like a bit of a muddle. I wonder who you saw about the ReA. Was it a rheumatologist? If so, I think it's maybe time you asked for another appointment. If not, I'd ask your GP to refer you.

    Those of us with auto-immune forms of arthritis can be prone to more colds and infections but only because of the medications we take for the arthritis. The meds work by lowering our over-active immune systems hence our tendency to contract more bugs. But – a big but in your case – without the meds we're no more likely than anyone else to get more infections.

    I think you need a proper diagnosis on your “6 Flus, not colds, proper week long Flus, were you're bed ridden for a few days. “ I'm not sure it's possible to get flu six times in a year but, in any case, flu lasts longer than a week. I think your 'flu' might be the arthritis having a bite. Reactive Arthritis can morph into RA and this might be what is happening to you.

    I really don't think you should self-medicate to try to improve your immune system. I think you should first explain to your GP what is happening and then see about another visit to the rheumatologist. You could also get a flu jab. It's a bit late but there's still plenty of 'flu time' left in the winter.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • AnnaMilton
    AnnaMilton Member Posts: 44
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hand-washing is probably the most revolutionary public health measure—right up there with immunization—for stopping the spread of infection. However, I would prefer alcohol gels instead of antibacterial ones as I believe; they make it easier for bacteria to build resistance.
    The other best way to enhance your immunity is to boost your Vita D uptake. If you're vitamin-D-deficient, your immune system will not activate to do its job. Best way to get vitamin D is by sun exposure. Healthy diet with all nutrients, particularly vitamin C and zinc (zinc interferes with viruses gaining full access to our cells) is also important as well as exercise and adequate sleep.

    I also heard good immune system relies heavily on good functioning gut and probiotics help keep your gut engine humming. Probiotics are good bacteria that help reduce inflammation and prevent infection; they may also reduce the severity of a cold or flu.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello, it's nice to meet you but I am sorry you have had to find us. Reactive arthritis is one of the auto-immune versions (there are around 200 of those) and is triggered by an over-active immune system (in your case yours responding to an infection which in turn triggers the RctA) . Boosting your immune system is not the answer - tackling the root cause of the arthritis is. Mine is psoriatic arthritis and I am on three immune-suppressing meds, I have a 'flu jab every year for this reason and have so far avoided a cold for some months now - to have infection after infection doesn't sound good.

    Like Sticky I wonder who diagnosed you, it's an unusual form of arthritis and I hope it was a rheumatologist. If not then I think it's time for another visit or referral for some blood tests. Once arthritis has moved in it rarely moves out, it prefers to hang around and make life uncomfortable for as long as it can. Can you define your symptoms of 'flu a little more clearly? I know what it means to me but my version may be different to yours. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • theresak
    theresak Member Posts: 1,998
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Dominic,

    Welcome to the forum. I can only echo what others have said - you need more information about what`s going on, and if you haven`t seen a rheumatologist, then it`s definitely time to get a referral.
  • As5567
    As5567 Member Posts: 665
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Like the others have said you really should be seeing your doctor, having flu 6 times in 1 season sounds unlikely as once we have caught that strain of flu we have immunity towards it for x amount of time and there isn't usually more than 3-4 strains of flu going around, and usually the last 2 strains of flu very little people catch, its usually only one or 2 strains of flu that is the main one passing between people.

    That being said you also don't want to be trying to improve your immune system if you have an inflammatory arthritis, if anything you want to be lowering it.

    So far this winter I have had 0 colds, 0 episodes of flu and 0 sickness bugs, in my household there has been colds twice this year, a sickness bug and flu! I don't put it down to good luck not catching these but very strict hygiene and keeping my distance from those who are unwell. I usually wash my hands each and every time I come home, I try to make sure everyone else living with me does the same. I use hand gel out and about, usually use it before I get back into my car which also limits bugs. I don't wipe my eyes, nose or mouth while out in public, this can take time to get used to but that's a very good way to stop colds and all the nasty bugs and lastly I tend to not eat out nowhere near as often during winter but that's just a personal preference from passed experiences, such as getting a nasty cough after eating out at a place where the member of staff had a stuffy nose and so on.

    I think by taking some extra steps to avoid things like colds etc you will probably get less of them than the average person which will be great.