The Hard Facts: I Shouldn’t Be Sick

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“Friendship may be Miracle-Gro for your immune system, Research shows that the fewer human connections we have at home, at work, and in the community, the likelier we are to get sick … In one study, researchers who monitored 276 people between the ages of 18 and 55 found that those who had six or more connections were four times better at fighting off the viruses that cause colds than those with fewer friends  ” (“Build Your Immunity” ; Today Health 10/2/2011)

I’m sick. Again.

I shouldn’t be.

At the end of October I came down with a cold that turned into bronchitis. It took forever, but I eventually shook it. I was better for, I guess, a week or two. And now, over the last few days, a new cold has appeared. The phlegmy cough, the runny nose… what? Too much information? I thought we were close enough for bodily function reports by now.

I’m pretty confident that this ongoing germfest has something to do with all the traveling I’ve done. We’ve had five out-of-town weddings in the last eight weeks. That’s a lot of flights with kids who don’t cover their mouths when they cough.

But despite that, I figured I had friendship immunity working in my favor. All these new social connections in my life should be helping me fight off viruses, right? (Though there is the counter point that fewer connections means fewer germs? I’m not a germaphobe, but that sounds correct too.) I’m supposed to get sick less often. Ugh.

According to this article, which I found on the Today Show’s “Build Your Immunity” calendar, stopping by a co-worker’s office or even emailing friends should boost your system. I email all the time! Granted I don’t have coworkers anymore, but I try to connect with people live and in person every day. What gives??

When you find yourself getting sick a lot–the sniffles, a cough, the usual common cold stuffs–can you pinpoint a culprit? Help!

6 Comments

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6 responses to “The Hard Facts: I Shouldn’t Be Sick

  1. Christina

    Physical and/or mental stress or not getting enough sleep or a screwed up sleep schedule seem to be the culprits for me.

    I try to avoid others if they are sick… and try not rub my eyes or my nose if I do happen to be around someone with a bad cold… until i have washed my hands.

    I also try to avoid work situations where I use someone else’s keyboard, mouse, pen, pencils, microphone/headset, etc.

    I haven’t had a cold in 4 years… knock on wood.

  2. Absolutely blame it on traveling. Nothing is as unhealthy as airplane air. Not only the kids, but every person on board is breathing their germs that you have to inhale and you did it 5 times in such a short space of time.
    One of my BFFs has to travel often (fabulous places, fortunately for her), but I always predict when they are too close together she ends up with pneumonia. And, she does. Very frail lungs.
    So, it could be worse. However, nothing is more annoying.
    Like the above reply…one has to be aggressive about cleanliness to the point of being a germaphobe these days. I carry purel with me at all times.
    Also, before taking a plane, both my husband and I go into training. Extra vitamins, more sleep, staying clear of anyone who has a cough or runny nose even if it means changing cars on the subway.
    Good luck for Thanksgiving travels.

  3. Megan

    Maybe one of the reasons they say that friendships build immunity is precisely BECAUSE you’re exposed to more germs. My mother is a teacher and her immune system has the chance to build anti-bodies to all the crap out there because her students are constantly bringing it into the classroom. She used to get sick all the time when she first started teaching. Now – hardly ever. I find that when I get sick the most is when I’ve slipped up on eating healthy (like, you know, I haven’t had 15 gloves of garlic in my dinner or something). If I eat gluten (and I’ve heard this from people who aren’t allergic/intolerant to it, too) especially, my body seems to spend it’s energy fighting THAT and a cold bug sneaks in the back door. When I’m constantly eating healthy (and not food I’m allergic to), I’ve been able to resist getting sick even when every single other person in my office caught whatever was going around.

  4. Laurie

    I have heard that having lots of friends and being social does help you get sick less, but for me I haven’t noticed the difference. I get sick easily, and a lot. I did when I had lots of friends, and I do now. I always heard it was that some people are more “carriers” and others are the ones who “unload the burden,” I guess you could say. But with all the intense flu germs out there these days, I guess you can touch it and pick it up anywhere (that is just disgusting to think about, isn’t it). Speaking of disgusting, nothing worse then when you are walking down some stairs somewhere, holding the railing, and your hand suddenly feels something wet on the railing. Ewww! I worked in an elementary school and it happened many times.

    I have yet to find great cures, but I find a hot toddy helps you *think* you feel better or makes you not care so much that you don’t yet feel better ~ something like that. Vicks vapo rub a’ plenty. A humidifier running all winter long in your home (and if you could swing it, at your work place). Honey before bed helps ease coughs.

    Now here’s the weird one I have not tried yet – someone told me rubbing vicks vapo on your FEET before bed helps you avoid coughing all night. I know I should try this. If it worked I’d be tickled pink to think something so crazy could actually work.

    I hope you feel better soon. Sometimes it just lingers and it is so frustrating. You hear yourself saying the old, “they can send a man to the moon, but…” or “in this day in age you’d think….”

  5. DEFINITELY the airplane travel. All that air is recycled. Essentially, you are breathing sick air for the entire flight.

    Of course stress and other things add to the liklihood that you will get sick if exposed.

    I highly recommend airborne. I take 3 or 4 each day that I feel something coming on. So far so good.

    good luck!

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