Do Celiacs Get The Cold?

Fighting fit like Rocky!

Celiacs! Have you gotten the cold/flu much, or at all, since being diagnosed?

I asked this question on Twitter and Facebook yesterday. These are some of the responses I got from fellow celiacs. Only two people told me that they often get sick. Most told me that they have rarely gotten sick, if at all, since being diagnosed as celiac and starting a strict gluten free diet.

‘Hardly ever now I think of it!’

‘No, actually, I haven’t gotten sick at all.’

‘Never thought of it but actually very rarely if at all!’

‘It is very unusual for me to be ill even when all my colleagues succumb’

‘Two years after going gluten free and I haven’t.’

‘No, not many at all.’

‘I used to always have cold after cold but now I’m rarely ill.’

‘Hardly any colds (I used to have them non stop) and no more hay fever’

‘Since being diagnosed I hardly get sick anymore.’

This may sound a little strange but I can’t remember the last time I was struck down by the flu or even a cold. Actually, I can. It was Christmas 2005, just a week before I was about to head off to South Korea, and I some how picked up the flu. I was in bed for a few days, every part of of me was aching. I hope writing this post isn’t tempting fate but I haven’t had the flu,or even a cold, since.

I’ve been sick in the sense that I developed lots of horrible symptoms which led to my celiac disease diagnosis but all of this disappeared once I started my gluten free diet. In the last six years I haven’t picked up a cold or the flu. I travelled A LOT during this time and there was the whole swine flu thing a couple of years back which many of my friends and coworkers caught. Even when my husband picks up a cold or a virus I some how manage not to catch it.

I wonder…it is my overactive immune system which prevents me from getting sick? If my immune system is so strong that it destroys my own body when I consume gluten, could it also be strong enough to fight off any cold or flu viruses?

UPDATE (November 2012) I’m sick!! I am currently suffering from my first cold in 7 years. How did it get through? My strong immune system didn’t catch this one..

What are your opinions on this? Share in the comments below. When was the last time you were struck down with a cold or the flu?

 

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Comments

  • I was likely the one of the two who said that YES they do get sick more often… I should qualify that I’m a teacher at a large school and I come in contact with A LOT of germy people throughout the school year… I find that I’ll get sick much more easily after I’ve been ‘glutened’. My theory is that my immune system is compromised after ingesting gluten, therefore I’m more likely to become ill. And since I work in a germ factory….

    Otherwise, I’m healthy as a horse and the most significant difference that I’ve noticed is that I no longer get daily, unexplainable headaches, which were the bane of my existence when I was a teenager.

  • Hey, Alli, I agree with your theory. If we accidentally eat gluten and our immune system is down then it woud make sense that we would be more likely to get sick.

    It’s interesting that you no longer get headaches. I’ve also spoken to people who no longer get hay fever and who say their asthma is now much better as well as the fact that they rarely, if ever, pick up a cold or the flu. Fascinating!

  • Laurel

    Mar 9th, 2012

    I still get colds, but not as often. The biggest difference though is that colds used to lay me flat in a matter of hours. If I felt a sore throat coming on, I would have to drop everything, go buy soup, kleenex and other cold supplies and then I wouldn’t feel up for leaving my house for a week! I would seriously be incapacitated in a matter of hours!

    Now, I feel “under the weather” or can understand what people mean when say they “have the sniffles.”

  • You didn’t include my answer, which was, A lot!!! I do still get frequent colds and I am a year into my healing process. I am hopeful though that it’s going to get better with my new diet which includes eating 6-8 servings of vegetables a day, esp. green vegetables. Even before I was diagnosed celiac I noticed I get sick less when I eat lots of greens and eliminate sugar.

  • haha, Sasha, You were one of the two who said Yes!
    I hope the responses to the article from fellow celiacs give you hope that once you are healed you will no longer get sick as often as you do now. πŸ™‚

    I agree that eating lots of veggies helps to make you feel better and get sick less. Your plan encouraged me to add more and now that I am it feels great!

  • Madly enough, I’ve had the same suspicions as you have Laura. I’ve been diagnosed now for almost 2 years and I’ve had a cold maybe twice in that time, both times coinciding with accidental gluten ingestion.

    In fact, I’ve got a bug at the moment that is doing the rounds here, it’s made my fiancée practically bedridden but I have just gotten joint aches, headaches, sore throat and dog-tiredness, so it seems like it hasn’t hit me anywhere nearly as hard as it has her.

    I’ve always figured it was something to do with coeliacs but never really given it a whole lot of thought.

    I still get asthma and hey fever though. Time will tell if these improve as my recovery reaches its conclusion.

  • Interesting, Dan. There must be something in this seeing the responses from this post. Over the past few weeks almost everyone I know has gotten sick with the cold but not me. πŸ™‚

    Like you I still have my asthma. I think that’s something I’m always going to live with but it’s nice living without the cold or flu.

  • Interesting. I hadn’t really thought about it but I don’t seem to get sick as often as those around me! When I do, it isn’t usually as severe as everyone else. YAY! Another positive for having Celiac disease! πŸ˜€

  • I’m not celiac, but I am dairy intolerant and have just been thinking the same thing about my allergy. Since I cut dairy out of my diet just over 4 years ago I’ve only been properly ill with a cold once. And thinking about it my hayfever has also been better.

    Whether it’s just that people with food allergies tend to eat more healthily or something to do with the immune system, there definitely seems to be something in it.

  • Melissa

    Apr 25th, 2012

    I agree. Since I have been gluten free, I have not been as likely to get sick. Before, I was not only on a ton of asthma meds, but also, I was plagued with respiratory illnesses that would make my asthma worse. Now, I am off almost all my meds. It is wonderful! Also, like the others, when I get sick, it is usually a lighter version. ( Of course, now that I have said that, I will probably get sick tomorrow. πŸ™‚

  • I’dd have to disagree I’m afraid – I get colds all the time, always have done and nothing changed since becomign coeliac. I wish I could agree, would be amazing to get rid of the damn things for good!!

  • Interesting. How long have you known you are coeliac, Sarah? My hypothesis that celiacs rarely gets sick seems to fit many of us but not everyone.

  • I rarely get sick either. That’s the benefit of having an over-zealous immune system. πŸ˜‰

  • Sarah H – do you live in a completely gluten free house? How long has it been since going gluten free? I went gluten free 4 years ago, but I still got some head colds (I got them constantly when I was little – my nickname was “sicky”). But after I moved into a household that is completely gluten free over a year ago, I haven’t had a single head cold or virus. So amazing! I think about this a lot, because the change has been so drastic.

  • Maureen Rombach

    Nov 29th, 2013

    After going glutenfree have not had the flu, bronchial problems or colds. Even though I normally would have them quite often. These last months everyone around me had all sorts of flu colds etc. Not me. Wish there were studies done on this.

  • Marisa

    Mar 7th, 2014

    In the year and a half I’ve been gluten free, I’ve only had one bug that was really bad. I had a few other things, but they only lasted a couple of days and I didn’t even have a fever or anything. My mom has experienced the same thing…she did catch pneumonia last summer, but we think she might have eaten corn just before she got sick (she is also corn intolerant). She’s had asthma all her life, but hasn’t even thought about her inhaler since 2012!

  • LAIRD GRAYSON

    Mar 11th, 2016

    I travel a lot and always would get a cold on the plane. I’ve been gluten-free for 6 months now and have traveled to three countries without a cold yet! My sinuses feel clearer than they have felt in years also. The other benefit would be that I feel less lethargic especially in the afternoons. I am not celiac butt chose to be gluten free and will never go back

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