Like everyone in this life, have you ever felt suffering from a cold, and on other occasions you will have caught a flu. At first you may find it difficult to distinguish them, but although the common symptoms are nasal congestion, mucus, cough, sore throat and head or loss of appetite, the cold hardly causes a fever, and in flu muscle discomfort and chills also play the game.
What probably hasn't happened to you much is getting a cold when you already have a flu, it sounds like a nightmare. Fortunately it doesn't happen too often, according to a new study; in fact, the researchers discovered that having the flu reduces the chances of developing an infection with the common cold virus, reports 'Live Science'. "What we found is that during certain seasons when there are high levels of influenza, you are less likely to get a cold caused by a rhinovirus," said Professor Pablo Murcia, lead author of the study that has been conducted in the University of Glasgow.
Viruses that don't want to live together
Researchers usually they study both viruses (cold and flu) separately, "but we have shown that we should study them together as if they were an ecosystem," Murcia added. "If we understand how viruses interact and how certain viral infections can favor or, on the contrary, inhibit each other, maybe we can develop better ways to attack viruses"he said. The study was published in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'.
Researchers have a theory for now: these viruses can compete with each other to cause you misery
In the new study the researchers analyzed information from more than 36,000 people in Scotland who provided more than 44,000 throat and nose samples to analyze respiratory diseases over a period of nine years. In the population, 35% tested positive for at least one virus, and 8% tested it for coinfection with at least two. Curiously, a computer analysis of the data showed that when flu activity increased in winter, rhinovirus infections decreased.
"A really surprising pattern in our data is the decrease in cases of respiratory virus rhinovirus … that occur during the winter, around the time when flu activity increases," said another author of the study., Sema Nickbakhsh, associate researcher of the Virus Research Center. In addition, when researchers looked at individual patients, they found that people infected with influenza A had 70% less prchances of being infected with rhinovirus, compared to patients infected with other types of viruses.
In addition, people stay home when they are sick, which reduces the chances of getting another virus.
It seems like luck, because suffering both could be torture. It remains, however, to determine the reason for the inhibitory effect between both viruses. Researchers for now have a theory: these viruses can compete with each other in their search to cause you misery. "We believe that respiratory viruses compete for resources," Nickbakhsh explained, "they may do so for specific cells to infect, or that a person's immune response to a virus makes it difficult for another to cause infection."
And there could be other factors, such as people staying home when they are sick, which reduces the chances of getting another virus. As the investigations progress, at least, we will be glad that both viruses do not want to coexist in our body, so as not to exhaust the global stocks of handkerchiefs and hot soups.