Different Germs, or Different Me?

As an average, healthy adult, I suffer through my share of seasonal upper respiratory infections. We all have our nicknames for it: Mocus, Epizudic, The Crud, The Green Nose Packers, Sneezles, Angela’s Pismo Weekend, and so on. For me in years past, it starts with a sore throat, followed by a day or two of cold-like symptoms, then finally the affliction descends into my chest, where it seems to stay, giving me a frustratingly dry, unproductive cough. In those years past, the cough would linger, almost always until I broke down and visited my doctor, who would prescribe antibiotics without doing much of a physical exam. His indifference to my symptoms told me that this was common, and that antibiotics would probably help. If that were the case, the pathogen had to be bacterial in nature, and since it began as a sore throat, I would guess it was some variety of strep.

Year after year this went on, and no matter how many days or weeks I tried to wait it out, the cough clung to my upper chest, keeping me up at night and annoying me in the day. It always seemed that the only cure was those antibiotics.

This year, though, was decidedly different, and I don’t know why. The sore throat struck, then the cold symptoms, then the cough. But then, amazingly enough, on both occasions this year, I got better in about a week. I don’t know if this was because the germs were different, because I am older and have been exposed to more pathogens, because I took better or different care of myself, because I am married, or some combination of all that.

At Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico, July 2004; I don't know if you can tell, but I was feeling pretty miserable on this day. I felt only marginally better as the week went on, and only kicked the cough after a round of antibiotics.
At Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico, July 2004; I don’t know if you can tell, but I was feeling pretty miserable on this day. I felt only marginally better as the week went on, and only kicked the cough after a round of antibiotics.
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3 Comments

  1. Being married? How would that help? And anyway, everyone knows the proper term for the illness is “Roomus Egloomus”.

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  2. Living with someone is a very different set of biological circumstances than living alone; twice the exposure to pathogens, a different, more complex set of hygienic behaviors, and on and on. Having dogs in the house probably makes a difference too.

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  3. “Living with someone is a very different set of biological circumstances than living alone”

    +1

    In many cases, it also means different eating patterns, different sleeping patterns, and even different moods — which can certainly affect health.

    I’ve been sick much less often since being married.

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