Increased Susceptibility to Infection in ME/CFS

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The author suggests that increased susceptibility to infection drives the increased number of respiratory infections found in ME/CFS relative to healthy controls. It was a follow up to a 2008 study coming out of England (using the Oxford Definition) which found that stress and fatigue tended to precede the appearance of a respiratory infection. The authors suggested that stress induced immune suppression was responsible but also allowed that maybe the patients didn't actually have infections - just the symptoms of infections.

This study found - whoa - they actually did have infections...

Chronic fatigue syndrome and increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections and illnesses. Andrew P. Smitha* & Marie A. Thomasb
Background: Previous research has suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients report more upper respiratory tract illnesses (URTIs) than controls. Aims: The present study aimed to replicate and extend this research. Method: A prospective study of the incidence of URTIs was conducted. This was similar to previous work involving diary studies but also included objective measures of illness severity (e.g. nasal secretion; sub-lingual temperature) and infection (virus isolation from nasal swabs and antibody changes). Fifty-seven patients with CFS, diagnosed according to the 1994 CDC criteria, were recruited randomly from a volunteer panel compiled of patients who had attended the Cardiff CFS outpatient clinic. A further 57 individuals without CFS were recruited from a general population research panel.

Results: The results confirmed that CFS patients report more upper respiratory virus infections and the virological results showed that this was not due to a reporting bias but reflected greater susceptibility to infection.

Conclusions: This increased susceptibility to infection in the CFS group can account for the increased reporting of URTIs found in this and previous studies.
_____________________________

Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):177-86. A longitudinal study of the relationship between psychological distress and recurrence of upper respiratory tract infections in chronic fatigue syndrome. Faulkner S1, Smith A.
Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Previous research has found that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients report increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract illnesses (URTIs) when compared with healthy volunteers. This study aimed to replicate and extend this research by investigating the role of psychological distress (stress and negative mood) in the recurrence of URTIs in CFS patients as well as its role in the recurrence of CFS symptoms.
DESIGN:

A 15-week diary study.
METHODS:

Measures of psychological stress, negative mood, recurrence of URTIs and symptoms were recorded each week for a 15-week period. CFS patients (N=21), who had been assessed and diagnosed according to the Oxford criteria, were recruited from the Cardiff Chronic Fatigue Clinic and compared with a matched group of healthy controls (N=18). Frequency of occurrence of infectious illness and the relationship between psychological stress/negative mood and occurrence of illness were assessed.
RESULTS:

CFS patients reported more URTIs than the controls. Stress scores (and negative mood) were significantly higher in the week prior to the occurrence of URTIs than in weeks when no subsequent illness occurred. High levels of psychological stress also preceded the severity of reported symptoms of fatigue in the CFS group.
CONCLUSIONS:

CFS patients reported more frequent URTIs than healthy controls and these recurrences were preceded by high levels of psychological stress. High levels of stress were also associated with greater subsequent fatigue. Possible explanations of these results are discussed.
 

tandrsc

Well-Known Member
Oddly, this isn't the case for me.
I very rarely get colds, and they don't seem to last that long when I do.
They always go to my throat first, so provided I start taking my home remedies ASAP they seem to nip it in the bud.
 

Tina

Well-Known Member
After a year of adjusting my life due to decreased energy which I categorized as an "inconvenience," I became acutely ill during the very early morning hours of June 7, 2008. After approximately 3 weeks they diagnosed me with pneumonia and treated with antibiotics. This helped at the margins, but he neurological pain and life altering fatigue have been with me ever since. The funny thing is that on my follow up chest x-ray after the antibiotics, the doctors questioned whether I ever really had pneumonia.

It was only 8 years or so in that I started to notice issues with shortness of breath and I am now diagnosed with NSIP (non-specific interstitial pneumonia). This was found on a high density ct scan and this was only ordered because of the $2,000 I put out to have the 2-day exercise test done with Staci Stevens.

My lung doctor says the NSIP is not enough to warrant any treatment, only monitoring. There is no doubt there is scarring in my lungs and I don't trust her assessment, but $$ means I wait.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
I wonder if this - NSIP (non-specific interstitial pneumonia) - is another under-diagnosed problem in ME/CFS?
 

Tina

Well-Known Member
I wonder if this - NSIP (non-specific interstitial pneumonia) - is another under-diagnosed problem in ME/CFS?
My guess is that it is likely that you would find quite a bit of NSIP. To thicken the plot a bit, for the first time ever in the last six months (I have been sick for 8 years) my body started exhibiting all the signs of rheumatoid arthritis. It lasted for about two months and then began to abate; although some arthritis has remained. The following article makes the argument that almost all patients who have NSIP have a connective tissue disease whether it has been identified or not.

The one thing that jumped out at me was that Rituximab has been suggested for NSIP, for RA (not sure if is used for all connective tissue diseases) and for CFS. Not surprisingly my pulmonologist and rheumatologist looked at me like I was crazy when I raised these items. After all, my NSIP is not bad enough and I do not have blood work proving I have a connective tissue disease.

I don’t think these are coincidences. There has to be a connection.
http://nationaljewish.org/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/Community/Blog/Participation-Program-for-Pulmonary-Fibrosis/December-2013/Does-every-patient-with-NSIP-pattern-lung-injury-have-a-connective-tissue-d
 

TigerLilea

Well-Known Member
CFS patients reported more frequent URTIs than healthy controls and these recurrences were preceded by high levels of psychological stress. High levels of stress were also associated with greater subsequent fatigue.
Once again a British team has to put a psychological spin on their research. The first 10 years of having CFS I had cold after cold that would last for weeks, if not months. In the last 15 years I haven't had one single full blown cold. I've had a few mini colds that never amounted to much, but never the real deal.
 

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