Once I catch an illness, can I catch more of it?

My husband had a really nasty cold this week. We went without contact for several days in an attempt to prevent it from passing onto me, but lo and behold, I woke up this morning with a general feeling of malaise and mild congestion. I don’t know if it will get better or worse from here - his started out mild too.

So I figure now that we’re both sick, we can cuddle, right? But he won’t let me. He says that further exposure to his germs will make me even sicker.

I told him he’s nuts. He told me to ask the Dope.

So who is right? If you’re sick, and you’re exposed to the same sickness again, can it make you even sicker?

With the sheer the number of cold-causing viruses around, it’s not a certain thing that you have the same bug as him, although it is likely that you do have the same pathogen. If you do, further exposure, as far as I know, cannot make you sicker. If you have something different, then it might.

No, unless he somehow has another strain of the cold, which I doubt. As for two or more different viruses infecting you at the same time, I don’t think you’d notice the difference since they would be competing for each other and most of the “sick” feeling is your own body fighting off the viruses (this can however create new strains of viruses, some of which can become more virulent).

Does anybody, by any chance, have a cite for this? He demands evidence.:rolleyes:

here is sort of a cite for the argument below. Consider the progression of a cold:

  1. a smallish number of virus cells enter you and start infecting your cells.
  2. Infected cells start popping out viruses like crazy
  3. Immune system takes notice of infection and figures out what an infected cell looks like
  4. Immune system starts killing all infected cells whole sale, also gives you fever chills and runny nose just out of spite.
  5. all infected cells wiped out life gets better, but the immune system still recognizes what infected cells looks like and if one shows up again it is quickly killed off.

Infection matters at stage one, but at stages 2-4 the number of viruses that you would get from the average smooch is small relative to the number of viruses that already exist in you system so it won’t really affect anything.

At stage 5, any reinfection will be shot down in short order.

Neither of you is acknowledging the fact that during the time that someone is infected by certain viruses that cause the common cold, he/she is protected against contracting another cold virus. Once their cold is over, they again become susceptible to other viruses. This observation played a role in the discovery of interferon.

You can get infected by two or more viruses at once, at least flu viruses (thus my mention of viruses mixing to make new strains), but I wouldn’t expect this to be unique to the flu.

Ask him for a cite. Remember, you are the Doper.

cuddle head to feet and you won’t be breathing on each other.

Actually, it’s not out of spite. Fever is one of the ways the immune system kills off bad cells. In many (most?) diseases, infected cells function within a narrower range of temperatures. So a fever kills off more of them than healthy cells. Thus fever seems to be a standard response of the body to most illnesses.

As someone who, on these very boards, has expressed doubt about the putative benefit of fever in the setting of infection, I’d be very curious to see a cite for this claim. I’m not arguing, just genuinely interested.