How come my immunse system seems better now that I'm on immunosupressants?

I’ve been on methotrexate for about a year now, and in that time I’ve had one very minor cold. I usually get quite a few colds due to various factors - I have asthma, I’m a teacher, I travel by tube, I have a daughter at school, my GF works at a university, etc - basically I have crap lungs and am exposed to a lot of disease vectors. I also had swine flu in 2009 and had almost permanent colds for a couple of years after that.

My GF and daughter have both had several bad colds, tonsilitis (my GF, three times) and the actual flu (my daughter) in that time. I’ve been fine.

My theory is that we notice when we have cold viruses because our immune system response leads us to fight against it, and that’s what creates the snotty nose, fever etc. My immune system is now not bothering to fight back, so I don’t get the symptoms.

Is there any merit to this line of reasoning?

Note: I’m only on 10mg of methotrexate a week, much lower than people on chemo or people who’ve had transplants. I have also had some steroids but not for months, and have been fine for all those months. I eat healthily but no more so than before the methotrexate.

ETA: Apologies for typos - my keyboard is acting up.

more than a theory, that’s pretty much what happens. Rhinoviruses (the ones which cause the common cold) are pretty much benign other than taking up residence in your head for a little bit. The symptoms of a cold are due to your immune system going batshit crazy trying to kill a fruit fly with a howitzer.

Aside from people on immunosuppressants for things like organ transplants, usually the reason they’re given is that the patient’s immune system is over-reactive. So what would be a minor or barely noticeable infection by a cold virus or something turns into a full-bore assault which, as mentioned, makes you feel like crap. Some disease even lead the body to attack itself, which will also make you feel like a mess.

By toning down the reaction to something more appropriate to the actual threat you don’t feel sick as often, or as strongly, and therefore you perceive your immune system as better.

This is why I roll my eyes at people who push woo-woo on me when my skin/allergies are acting up claiming it will “stimulate your immune system!” or “strengthen your immune system!” The problem is that immune system is like the Hulk in a full blown rage - more than strong and stimulated enough, can we calm this down a bit? Thank you.

I’ve been meaning to respond to this again for a while.

Basically, thanks you two for confirming what I thought - that my lower levels of coughs and sneezes and due to the immunosuppressants.

However, if it’s true that I’m now getting fewer colds due to my immune system being suppressed, what is actually happening with those viruses? Are they just affecting me somehow without it being visible and audible by sneezing and coughing?

What about more serious conditions like measles? Would I be more likely to get ill from that, or less?

If not, would it actually be useful for people to take minor doses of immunosuppressants?

Those viruses still take up residence. Please keep in mind that there are various parts of your immune system, and I doubt the drug that you’re taking, and at a low dose, is completely affecting all players and pathways involved.

That said, the body has ways (innate immune system) to combat some viruses without calling the major players. I’m sure that you still have some of that response going on, so there is some fight back, just not as much as you would otherwise.

The downside is that, unlike others, you may not be making antibodies and memory cells to fight the infection in the future, so the same virus can get into your nose again and again and again, while with your GF and daughter, after the first time, the virus is likely not going to bother them again.

And again, that works for some diseases and not for others. What will not be a major deal with rhinoviruses, which like to infect some generally non-vital cells (nasal epithelium) and are not an issue, will be a big deal if another virus or bacteria decide to infect important organs… like brains, lungs, kidneys, heart, etc.