Getting Through Cold and Flu Season with Crohn’s Disease

Getting Through Cold and Flu Season with Crohn’s Disease
This past week or so, I have been plagued by a nasty cold. My sickness got me thinking about cold and flu season with Crohn's disease and IBD. Most Crohn's patients manage their disease with some form of medication: steroids, immunosuppressants, immunomodulators, antibiotics, biologics, or another type. These medications can suppress your immune system, making it harder to fight off viruses such as colds or the flu, and increasing the risk of developing pneumonia. Patients with IBD and other chronic conditions are more likely to get sick, and these illnesses can last longer than the "normal" few days. And when IBD patients get sick, they really get sick. The common cold may last a few days, but for patients with Crohn’s disease or otherwise weakened immune systems, it can persist for weeks and even lead to a flare-up of IBD symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests taking these precautions to avoid illness: wash your hands, wear a face mask when visiting your doctor’s office or hospital, dress appropriately for the weather, and avoid those who are sick. Get a flu shot The flu, or influenza, is a viral infection, and though it shares some symptoms with the common cold, with the flu they are more severe. While an annual flu shot is recommended for most people, IBD patients should be mindful of their suppressed immune systems, which make them more susceptible to infections. IBD patients should get their flu shot as early as possible. My doctors have advised me that I can only get the flu shot, as the nasal spray flu vaccine is a live vaccine — a no-no for those with IBD. Tackling the common cold As I've mentioned, I have been sick with a cold. I have a runny nose and cold sores and have been coughing and sneezing. I have had a fever,
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