Cold and exacerbated MS symptoms

Hi all,

I have had a stinking cold for the last 3 days, been off work the last 2 and my MS symptoms seem to be the worst they have ever been.

I have managed to haul my arse out and walk the dog (a usual 20 minute walk that turned into 1 hour due to me struggling).

I am struggling to drive my car/use my right arm/grip with my hand/get upstairs/cannot curl my toes on my right foot/ weird pains in my right forearm and strange sensations on my face. These are all symptoms I suffer with on and off but they are so, so bad at the moment, plus I can’t breath but I can blame that on the cold!

I have a batch of steroids sat in the cupboard but not sure if I should start them whilst I am virally ill.

Not a great start to 2016. Any advice? My MS nurse is not back until Monday.



Aggravated symptoms during a cold or other infection are common, and are not usually a relapse. So no, I don’t think you should embark on a course of steroids for what is probably not a relapse - especially as there’s a limit on how frequently you can have them, so you might need them later for a real relapse.

One of the reasons for the increased symptoms could be a slight temperature with the cold. So treat the cold with paracetamol, to try to keep down the temperature - but be careful, as many proprietary cold remedies (Beecham’s, Night Nurse etc.) have paracetamol already in them, so don’t exceed the recommended dose by taking tablets too.

I don’t think there’s much else to be done for a cold, or increased MS symptoms as a result. I think this is just one for time and patience.

Respiratory infections, including colds, can trigger REAL relapses, but typically four to five weeks later - not usually during the cold itself.


Cheers Tina,

I hope not to have a relapse in 4/5 weeks time…I’ll be in Thailand!

I know for future to stay away from the infected, whereas I’ve normally put myself in the thick of the germs, a strategy that seemed to keep me healthier on the whole (colds and flu only).

I had a flu jab only a couple of weeks ago, I think this is totally unrelated though.

I’ll keep the steroids locked away for now, fortunately have a neuro appt on Thursday where I will also see my MS nurse.

I guess I may as well go to bed following a lovely hot bubble bath as I’m already so crap.


Hope you start feeling better soon! I used to brag about never picking up colds etc …“must have an amazing immune system!”. Well that firmly smacked me in the face when I was dx :wink:

I had an incident with barbed-wire when I took my dogs out earlier. Trying to retrieve a ball. Not pretty haha!

L xx

Ha ha ha…same as, always bragged about how outstanding my immune system was, all explained by the dx :stuck_out_tongue:

Barbed wire sounds interesting…my poor dog didn’t get out at all yesterday…there was no way I could let him have two days incarcerated with only me for company, wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy :smiley:

Nikki x

Thing is, it’s just not practical to avoid anyone who might have a cold, in case we relapse weeks later, is it?

I must say, I do appreciate it if germ-ridden friends and relatives steer well clear of me until they’re better - but I think that’s a basic courtesy you should extend to anyone you know is already ill, and not lumber them with more.

I can’t expect people to stay off planned events like college, and (in the past) work, on my account, but I can expect them not to suggest a one-to-one meet-up, when it’s obvious they’re infected - or at least to give me some choice. Not too hard to say: “I’d love to meet, but I’ve got a really stinking cold - don’t know if that’s OK for you?”, is it?

Of course, I don’t expect people with no experience of MS to know that a cold might trigger a relapse, but I do expect them to think about whether it’s fair to risk making an ill person even iller! Just basic consideration, isn’t it? If you feel shitty, don’t go round to a friend with existing health problems, and share it. Exactly the same if there’s a baby or an old person - anyone vulnerable. You don’t insist on meeting them with a stinking cold - it’s thoughtless.

But shops and public places, it can’t be helped. I went down with a cold a few weeks ago, when I’d barely been out. College had already broken up for Christmas, so I narrowed it down to either when I popped to the corner shop for bread, or it must have literally come with the post, when someone delivered a parcel. I don’t know how anyone can sit at home alone as much as me, and still come home with a cold if they pop out for five minutes!

It’s such a pain! Where did I catch this? Oh, can only be buying that bread/milk - gaaaaagghhh.



Don’t take steroids while you have a cold. The steroids will reduce your body’s ability to fight off the cold. It could end up being the worst cold you’ve ever experienced!

I should think your exacerbated MS symptoms are due to the cold, but I should stay off the steroids until you are well over the cold.

Hope you feel better soon.


Staying off the steroids until this really shitty cold has passed. Totally makes sense. My body is starting to ache all over, feels like I have things crawling under my skin and my eyes leaking too now…better not be a flu! Eeek.

I always tell people when I’m ill with a cold or something, like you say Tina, its just courteous. I did go briefly to a new years eve party, I made it quite clear I was ill and wasn’t going to go, my friends insisted though. Strict hygeine rules though, no hugs and kisses, my own bottles of beer. I didn’t feel as bad as I did the following day and today even worse…

Thanks everyone.

I’m in bed all wrapped up as I feel cold, dogs already snoozing next to me, whiskey and warm milk been drunk. ready to go :slight_smile:


Whiskey and warm milk…good girl!! I was the same yesterday with my dogs, had horrendous fatigue and my hubby couldn’t take them as he’s recovering from cancer treatment. My eldest boy is an irishwolf hound mix so he’s REALLY lazy but my youngest has American bulldog in her so needs loads of exercising. They’re both snoring away in their beds now- we all share the room haha!


Take regular paracetamol to keep your temperature down, apparently if your temp raises your MS symptoms become worse and you become more debilitated.

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I miss the good old days when I could just have a normal cold, sore throat, norovirus, bout of food poisoning, etc etc.

If I have any kind of ordinary illness then all my ms symptoms just flare up.

It’s bloody annoying. I end up a twitchy mess.

Hope you feel better soon.

Thanks all, I must be bad as I’m constantly checking the internet forum.

Had a reasonably good nights sleep, I think the whiskey and warm milk helped! More of that tonight :smiley:

Paracetamol is the only drug I’ve been taking.

This is my first cold since my diagnosis, in fact I think its my first one in the last couple of years!

My dog is a collie x husky so not walking is not really an option…I think its good for me as it forces me to be mobile, though fatigue does sometimes beat me and the poor pup misses out.

Hope your husband is responding to cancer treatment Star1981, can’t imagine the difficulties that has added to your life.

All the best everyone, my happy, healthy 2016 has not started so good LOL.

Like the phrase ‘the good old days when I could just have a normal cold’!!

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I’ve had enough now. I am still sick!

Back in bed…cold from hell is definitelty flu from hell…symptoms are up there with being in a straight jacket today.

I have had over a week off work now, they have been brilliantly understanding, but what do I do??? Doctor can’t do anything…I’m at the end of my tether

Any advice welcome.


I am sorry you are still in the wars. I have got over the horrid cold bug I had late last year, but my MS feet haven’t got back to what passes for normal yet. Horrid, isn’t it?


Its doing my head in, I have just called 111 and they are getting someone to call me back.

I’m probably panicking but I’m scared that I’ve got pneumonia because it started getting better and came back and I am short of breath but, I don’t have a fever.

My whole being feels alive (not in a good way), gremlins in my bones and muscles.

I had the flu Jab a couple of weeks before I got any symptoms…I wonder if that has possibly made it worse than it would have been.

Sorry to hear about your feet Alison, I hope they pass for normal soon! My arm symptoms are not good. Hope they bugger off when I recover from this shitty whatever it is.


This cold virus a lot have had was a really bad one i had it in october, i was ill for 3 weeks, then got a bit better,only for it to come back, the rest of the family have had same too.then i have had severe throat infection that started xmas day and its made me very ill ms wise too.i feel as though i will never pick up.

J x

I have had a relapse the same time as an infection. It was over a year ago it started with very heavy legs like heavy weights around my legs and ankles. It felt like I had severely overdone it running and had to crawl around my flat, it was very hard to walk and upsetting. Then bladder infection a few days later, incontinence. Then very sore throat a few days after that. I got antibiotics much too late (about day 10) as there was hold ups at the GP surgery getting my urine tested and results back to me.

There was someone else on this forum who got the flu and a few days later had a severe relapse (when still had the flu).

Feeling much better today, got out of the house, walked the dog, still bunged but energy returning. Unreal! Just waiting for the arm symptoms to beggar orf now :slight_smile:

My 111 call resulted in an out of hours GP appointment, they just confirmed flu and sinusitis, no pneumonia, I was being paranoid :slight_smile: