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Common Cold

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Jenny
126452.  Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:41 pm Reply with quote

My husband believes that if he feels as if he is getting a cold and he takes aspirin every couple of hours for a day or two, it will stave it off. I cannot see how this works, but he assures me it does. Is he imagining it?

 
CaptTimmy
126454.  Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:49 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
My husband believes that if he feels as if he is getting a cold and he takes aspirin every couple of hours for a day or two, it will stave it off. I cannot see how this works, but he assures me it does. Is he imagining it?


of course he is. It's a side effect of Asprin. [guessing] It gives the brain the euphoric state that makes it believe it's getting better and associates the crap you felt before the euphoria with what gave you said euphoria, therefore you go back and buy more Asprin [/guessing]

 
Jenny
126455.  Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:52 pm Reply with quote

Hmmm - not sure I associate euphoria with aspirin! A legal high - shhh, don't tell the government.

 
smiley_face
126639.  Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:08 pm Reply with quote

dazed wrote:
So would catching some viruses help the immune response against other non-realted viruses which have simialr markers? Or have I misunderstood immune systems.


Basically, the first time a pathogen enters your body, you have what's called a primary immune response, where one of your B cells (a type of lymphocyte) recognises the pathogen, as its receptors "fit" the antigen (a chemical which stimulates an immune response) present on the surface of the pathogen. This stimulates B cell division. Some of the B cells divide to become B plasma cells, which then produce antibodies against the antigen.



The antibodies secreted by the B plasma cells can do one of a number of things to help fight off the infection:
    1. They combine with the toxins from bacteria and viruses which prevents them entering or damaging cells.
    2. They combine with toxins which neutralises them and makes them harmless (these antibodies are known as "antitoxins")
    3. They attach to the flagella (little propelling tails - incidentally the only example of a wheel in nature I think) of bacteria, making them less active, so that phagocytes - another kind of white blood cell - can engulf the bacteria and break them down
    4. Together with other molecules, some antibodies "punch" holes in the cell walls of bacteria causing them to burst when they absorb water by osmosis.
    5. Some antibodies have more than one antibody binding site. They can each bind to two different bacteria or viruses, causing them to agglutinate, reducing the spread of bacteria through the body.
    6. They can attach themselves to the outsides of the bacteria and viruses. Phagocytes have receptor proteins for the heavy polypeptide chains of the antibodies, so this improves the ability of the phagocytes to bind to the bacteria/viruses and thus engulf them and break them down.

While this process of fighting disease takes place, you tend to feel a bit ill, and the symptoms of a cold are an example of this.

While some of the B cells initially divide to form plasma cells, some of them become B memory cells. These are cells which stay in the body even after the first infection has been overcome. When the antigen enters the body for the second time, there are lots of memory cells present in the bloodstream, and so plasma cells and hence antibodies are produced far more quickly. The disease is beaten very quickly, so you usually don't know you've got it for the second time.

So back to the original question RE: having had a cold giving you protection against flu...

Antibodies can adapt to slightly different molecules. There are disulphide bridges between the heavy and light chains, and between the heavy chains, and these act as hinges to allow the shape of the antibody to change slightly.

So for example, if you get a cold which is caused by a rhinovirus in November and then recover, your body now has memory cells against that particular strain of rhinovirus. Say in February, you infected again, but by a slightly different rhinovirus, it is highly likely that it will be recognised and destroyed quickly by the antibodies, so you won't get ill. On the other hand, if you are infected by a coronavirus, it won't fit the antibody binding sites, and so you will get another cold.

Sources:
Jones, Fosbery, Taylor, Biology 1
Toole and Toole, Understanding Biology

 
Ameena
126712.  Thu Dec 14, 2006 6:36 pm Reply with quote

I'm not sure if this fits in here or in the adverts thread, but I came here first so in it goes...
I saw an advert on telly yesterday for this little bottle of spray-foam stuff that you use on your hands and apparently it "protects from colds and other germs". If germs mean "bacteria" (as opposed to "bacteria and viruses") I can see yet another thing wrong with that statement...

 
AlmondFacialBar
126718.  Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:17 pm Reply with quote

Ameena wrote:
I'm not sure if this fits in here or in the adverts thread, but I came here first so in it goes...
I saw an advert on telly yesterday for this little bottle of spray-foam stuff that you use on your hands and apparently it "protects from colds and other germs". If germs mean "bacteria" (as opposed to "bacteria and viruses") I can see yet another thing wrong with that statement...


the ad is cool, though... ;-)

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
gerontius grumpus
126720.  Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:35 pm Reply with quote

Of course one could get a respectable cold to teach the common cold to know its place.

 
samivel
126759.  Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:22 am Reply with quote

lol

 
mrpip
126949.  Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:55 pm Reply with quote

CaptTimmy wrote:
Jenny wrote:
My husband believes that if he feels as if he is getting a cold and he takes aspirin every couple of hours for a day or two, it will stave it off. I cannot see how this works, but he assures me it does. Is he imagining it?


of course he is. It's a side effect of Asprin. [guessing] It gives the brain the euphoric state that makes it believe it's getting better and associates the crap you felt before the euphoria with what gave you said euphoria, therefore you go back and buy more Asprin [/guessing]



WRONG!
*KLAXON SOUNDS - holds up answer card which reads "ASPRIN PRODUCES A HIGH"*


It's just an urban legend, most likely a variation on the Coke and Asprin makes a high myth. (See http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/aspirin.asp)

 
andymac
126962.  Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:20 pm Reply with quote

Hmmmm.....

People believed that coke and aspirin produced a high. As we all know from telling younger kids they're drinking spirits that they can actually become intoxicated with no intoxicant. Therefore, for some people, it did induce a high :)

Seriously, though:- aspirin thins the blood. Caffeine increases heart rate. While it may not be a full blown high, wouldn't it have a mood altering effect of at least a moderate nature (thinned blood pumping fast through the brain must do something?) Any medical experts out there that could debunk this if I'm wrong?

 
smiley_face
126975.  Fri Dec 15, 2006 4:49 pm Reply with quote

Codeine is a comparatively weak opiate found in quite a number of painkillers. This will induce a high if taken in large quantities.

Quote:
It is a Class B drug, except for concentrations of less than 8 mg when combined with paracetamol, or 12.5 mg when combined with ibuprofen, which are available in many over the counter preparations.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codeine

 
CaptTimmy
128638.  Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:26 am Reply with quote

Upon asking my friends at school the first question about preventing the cold, one answered correctly, with a complete utter guess, and the other said death....which as I see it prevents just about everything...

 
simonp
128643.  Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:44 am Reply with quote

The best cure i know is whiskey. Its also the most pleasurable too :-)

 
smiley_face
128852.  Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:25 am Reply with quote

In Japan, the most traditional remedy for the common cold is Tamagozake, a drink consisting of heated sake, sugar and a raw egg. It is believed that the sake helps you sleep well, while the lysozymes in the egg white boost the immune system.

 
holleeday
129284.  Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:21 pm Reply with quote

ohhh kay.... deep breath

aspirin does not get you high, nor does it thin the blood (what it actually does is interfere with the function of platelets that trigger the clotting cascade) your blood is no thinner (technically) but the platelets are a little worse at doing their job hence fewer clots forming.

interestingly there is no evidence that aspirin prevents deep vein thrombosis despite it seeming logical that it would do so. aspirins main use is to prevents clots forming in the arteerial side of the circulation. (it's side effects come from the fact that it interferes in a chemical cascade. the chemical cascade then splits into compounds which variously cause platelets to congregate; pain chemicals to propagate; stomach ulcers to be prevented and various other compunds). so blocking the cascade stops all those effects (or at least mitigates them)

while we are on the subject, vitamin c does not stop a cold (although high doses do increase the risk of kidney stones), echinacea may make a difference but it's hard to tell, zinc lozenges do seem to amelerioate the symptoms and homeopathy is water disguised as medicine. (i am not anti-complementary therapy- i am an acupuncturist myself but prefer to stick to Rx where there is at least some evidence they may work). i am not aware of any evidence that aspirin makes any difference to a cold either ( although it will reduce any associated muscle aches, fevers and pains of course as it is an analgesic and anti-pyretic).

One of my tutors used to say " a cold lasts a week on average, however if we apply the whole of medical knowledge to the problem it lasts an average of 7 days"

source- Various paraphrased, including BMJ, Clinical Evidence, Bandolier and assorted peer review journals. Oh and medicine degree.

 

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