Hints of an Immunity Fingerprint: Bee Stings, Peanuts, and Colds

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What if each immune system is unique, so none respond exactly the same?

Knightro-UCF-pharmacyAlmost two years ago I told you about a phrase I’d coined, the immune fingerprint, to describe the unique way each person’s immune system responds to a similar or identical stimulus. I hope you’ll read that original post explaining it’s only logical that Rheumatoid Disease (RD) is heterogeneous since it is immune system mediated. That heterogeneity is the biggest challenge in creating treatments that work OR improved awareness about RD.  

Currently, my family is living out an example of precisely what we can learn from this concept of immunity fingerprint. All six people sharing my house are sharing the same virus, each with a distinctive symptom-set. We can learn valuable lessens from this little germ:

1 virus, 6 people, 15 symptoms

4 had frequent productive cough
5 had a runny nose
1 had a cold sore
2 had a severe sore throat
1 had persistent vertigo
3 vomited, 2 repeatedly
1 had back pain
6 had a fever
1 had 2 ear infections
1 had bronchitis requiring antibiotic
4 had severe nausea
1 had acute benign myositis
1 had burning eyes
5 had muscle aches
3 lost the sense of taste

We can learn 2 simple lessons from a virus

These 6 cases of the same virus in the same home, with shared genetics, demonstrate two key points related to RD.

1) Even while each patient had a unique pattern of symptoms they were still believed; they were not disputed, dismissed, or abused in some other way for having “atypical” flu. We just consider it at face value. We need to do so in Rheumatoid Disease.

2) Most importantly, in spite of the fact that they were dissimilar, each one still received whatever treatment was needed, either from a family member or doctor. Treating the actual manifestations is the only humane thing to do. We need to do so in Rheumatoid Disease.

single_candleWhy is it so easy to accept whatever strange-sounding cold and flu symptoms there are? BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS HAD A VIRUS! That’s why we say “the common cold” – it’s a common experience. RD is not. We’re going to have to educate about experiences of people living with Rheumatoid Disease.

Did anyone ever tell you your symptoms could not be related to your RD because they don’t seem typical? The symptom list for RD is longer that that for the flu. There are many common RD symptoms that patients are frequently told are “rare.”

Postblog: I want you to know that, amidst piles of tissues and cough drop wrappers, I did successfully avoid the virus for weeks with my germ avoidance techniques! It wasn’t until sweet Roo accidentally exhaled directly onto my face the other day that I joined this party. Stay well, my friends!

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 4:44 am and is filed under RA Research, Resources, and Rheumatology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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