MS and viruses... which camp do you fall in?

It seems to me that some people with MS are like me and never... or very rarely... get a virus. The last virus I had was 5 years ago when I had flu. Since then I haven't had so much as a sniffle. And that flu was the first virus for a few years.

The explanation appears to be that the immune system is constantly in 'battle mode' fighting the MS damage which it thinks is a foreign body... so that any old run of the mill virus is immediatly zapped.

On the other hand, it seems like lots of MSers are always getting colds and flu so the theory obviously doesn't cover all MSers.

So as a piece of totally unscientific research, which camp do you fall in?

Also what type of MS do you have? I'm PPMS.

Pat x

Hi Pat

I’m probably PPMS and recently had a cold along with all the rest of my family. However, everyone else’s turned into a horrible upper respiratory cough which has lasted about a month and mine was a pretty mild cold.

So who knows? Maybe it’s true.

Teresa xx

Hi I have RRMS and very rarely have a cold/virus.  Usually everyone in the family gets the sniffles but I don't seem to.  Having said that I've now jinked it and will probably catch something for the Christmas Hols!


i think im like you i dont get much xxx

Hi I never get anything either. Cheryl:)

Completely unscientific observation: my MS became "highly active" towards the end of 2009. Before then, I had probably the normal amount of colds and bugs. Since then, nothing.


I think I want a cold!

Karen x


I'm SPMS and rarely get anything, occasionally I feel like something is 'coming on' but it usually doesn't amount to anything.

I'm a little unusual in that I was diagnosed with SPMS. I managed to be blissfully unaware during the RRMS bit so I almost count myself as PPMS

I actually think MS is probably a collection of diseases.

Another thing I've noticed is that it seems to 'run' in some families. In my case, I don't know of anybody else in the family with it.


Hi Pat.


When i was rrms i never got a cold or virus, now i am spms and usually get a cold/virus every winter followed by a nasty  relapse 6 weeks later, thats why i am always ill at xmas, i have come to expect it now,


but i went for about 10 years without so much as a sniffle,strange thing this MS isnt it ?


jaki  xx

Hi Pat. I’ve often wondered about this. I haven’t had a cold or flu since well before I was dx in 2008. Dr said “lucky you - you must have a very active immune system”. I don’t know if there is any link between ms and not caving under a viral infection. Perhaps one day all will be made clear. Roger x

I fear my son walking through the door with yet another virus, I get them all and am sick of being sick if you know what I mean.


Was diagnosed with RRMS.


Dont think there is anything which can be read into type and action of immune system?  Here's hoping you do find some kind of connection though.




Hi Pat

Before I was diagnosed with MS I very rarely suffered with any viruses, and if I did get a cold it was gone within a couple of days.

But last Christmas I was laid up with flu, it was so bad I couldn't even face smoking a cig....and I had to be really ill to stop me from smoking. lol!, but and it's a big BUT......

Since Boxing day last year I haven't so much as smoked 1 cigarette, I don't know how I have done it, as I have tried and failed so many times before, anyway I'm so pleased with myself and so thankful to my other half for passing that flu virus on to me, lol....oops I've kind of gone off the subject haven't I?

My sister has a very bad dose of flu at the moment, she visited last Saturday and was complaining of a sore throat, I rang her on the Sunday and she was in bed and could hardly speak, but a week has past and I have managed to stay virus free.

I also have PPMS.

Take care

Jacky x                          


Hi again and thanks for your responses.

So far it looks like a pretty mixed bag. I don't know if any real scientific research has been done on this subject... but I have a feeling there's something in it. I mean do the MSers who do NOT get viruses even have the same condition as the MSers who do? 

And very interesting that Jaki didn't get colds and flu when she was RRMS and now she's SPMS she does.

Kim, no doesn't make you weird at all. It's MS that's weird!!!

Pat x cool

Great Mel thanks. I really think they’re missing something if this isn’t being researched. I mean it shows that not everybody’s immune system reacts the same to MS damage… and that must mean something don’t you think?

Personally I think it’s why I feel like I’ve got flu ALL of the time… not runny nose or anything, but that weak, exhausted, achey and slighly feverish feeling. I’ve felt like that for about 6 or more years without let up. I think it’s because my immune system is so hyperactive. It’s probably why people with flu feel like they do… part of it’s the virus but part of it’s their immune system fighting the virus.

Random thoughts but I think they make sense.

Pat x

Hi Pat

I like random thoughts, I also think there's something obvious that is being overlooked!!!

I got every bug going before diagnosed (2007) with Progressive MS, also had gladular fever when I was 17.  I still get every bug going....  Glad I'm posting here I try to be upbeat on the PPMS forum.

Ha! found you...

Take care, M

I have RRMS and never seem to get any colds or infections.  Maybe the odd UTI but that's about it!!


Denise xx

There we go M… both PPMS and you get every bug going and I don’t get any… what’s that about?

You know I’m forever loyal to our PPMS board but thought my research post deserved a world-wide audience!

Hope you’re having a good Sunday,

Pat x

I was diagnosed this year with RRMS, I've always been prone to colds, tonsilitus, chest and throat infections since I was little.  I got a cold after my flu jab and it came back again 2 weeks later!  Wish I was one of the lucky ones who suffer rarely from colds!  Hope everyone stays healthy this winter!


I don't know what type of MS I have - it's either RR or SP, my MS nurse hasn't really given it a name, and I try not to ever pigeonhole myself anyway.  I have never really been prone to picking up bugs, but I did used to get two colds a year, one in the summer and one in the winter and this seems to have stopped.  I think the last cold I had was in March this year.  Very interesting discussion, I've often wondered about the extended effects of the immune system on "normal" bugs.

Luisa x

Hi Pat,

           This has always puzzled me too; I virtually never get the usual colds that are passed around the family like a tube of Pringles, and even if I do catch a cold my immune system soon seems to kick this into touch. And I am on immune supressants too! I read long ago that people with MS rarely catch any bugs, but my friend (who also has MS) catches everything at a drop of a hat, and she takes forever to get over them, AND she is not on the immune supressants like I am. Totally confusing!!


After my previous post I thought I had jinxed myself - my husband and daughter have recently had a bad bout of cough and cold - then I started getting a tickly throat and irritating cough and thought great they've given it to me in time for Xmasnervous - but a week later and it's gone thumbsup, it never came to anything and they are both still suffering, they have been taking medicines, I have taken none. So, is it my immune system battling the bugs?  Who knows but it would be interesting if there is some research on this.