Why Do People With Lyme Disease Not Catch Colds And The Flu?

people with Lyme disease
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So, as I write this I’m living in a house full of sick people.

Completely surrounded by influenza.

And contagious germs.

Caring for all of my ailing family members.

And I’m thankful for one thing Lyme disease might be good for….preventing me from catching colds and, in this case, the flu that otherwise “healthy” people get.

Seriously.

Ever since I’ve had Lyme I can be surrounded with a highly contagious illness, but over and over rarely, if ever get “sick”.

If you have Lyme, you know this is a small consolation considering everything else we deal with, but each little thing helps, right?

I mean, we may end up going to the doctor, emergency room, or hospital for a number of other Lyme-related health problems, but if I can bypass the colds, flu, and other assorted viruses out there….I’ll take it.

For now anyway.

Interestingly, a friend who has Lyme told me her doctor was encouraged when she started catching colds and viruses her children would catch at preschool. He said this was a good sign.

But why, I want to know?

Does it mean her immune system is beginning to work like it’s supposed to again?

Why Do (Some) People With Lyme Disease Not Catch Colds And Flu?

I’ve researched this strange phenomenon online and have found many fellow “Lymies” who have the same experience. But I’ve had a hard time finding any concrete explanation for why this happens.

So if you know can you please share with me? 🙂

We’re told by our doctors that our immune systems are messed up, so I’m guessing this has a lot to do with it.

But is it because our immune system is so weak and worn down from trying to fight the Lyme and co-infections?

Or perhaps our immunity is in overdrive and simply wipes out every invader that comes close. But, if that were true, would we even have Lyme in the first place?

Or, here’s another thought. Because many of us have felt like we’ve had the flu every day since we were infected with Lyme disease maybe we can’t recognize a “little” cold? (I’m not implying a cold is little, just using it as an example.)

So many questions. Please help!

As a sidenote, I’ve read on some message boards that people with MS and a few other autoimmune conditions experience this same crazy phenomenon.

The Takeaway

If you have Lyme or know someone who does, do you still catch colds and other illnesses or not? Have you read or heard a good explanation for why this happens?


Please share your thoughts and opinions below in the comment section. I’d love to hear what you have to say! Hopefully we can all help each other figure this out. 🙂


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26 Comments

  1. I was exposed to the flu 2 days ago by an insensitive client. I’m just now feeling some symptoms of getting ill. I hope it is true that I wouldn’t catch flu due to my Lyme infection. I’m afraid if I get it that my body won’t do well with my impaired immune function. My CD57 which I believe is an indication of my immune system is a 0 due to my Lyme infection. I’m really afraid & hope that it could true that I won’t catch the flu!!! Thank you for your article!
    I’ve had a low lying Lyme infection for at least 15 years but then got bitten again 2 and a half years ago & got a terrible Lyme infection with neurological impairment, arthritis and pain issues.

    1. Oh, so sorry to hear you were exposed to flu, Carrie. It’s definitely going around! I’d love to hear an update…did you get the flu or no? (I’m hoping not!)

      Thank you for sharing about your experience with Lyme. Fifteen years is a long time to live with Lyme. Praying for relief from your symptoms and improved health.

      Thanks for visiting the site and commenting. I hope you’ll be back soon!

  2. I believe that when we are infected with a bacteria infection such as lyme it makes our body tolerable to viruses. I have thought about this since my late stage diagnosis. Prior to being diagnosed I have had a superb immunity. So many people who state that couldn’t believe how I never got ill. I thought it was due to my tonsillectomy as a child but even after diagnosis and having such autoimmune disorders I still can maintain my natural health to viruses. Very strange

  3. I have been fighting Lyme and co-infections for four years, but only began treatment 6 months ago. I have never experienced a break from getting colds, unfortunately, and was diagnosed with the flu 5 days ago. Amazingly, instead of feeling worse, my Lyme symptoms disappeared!I had all the flu symptoms and was contagious – but I felt so much better than I usually do. Now that I am getting over the flu, my muscle and joint pain is returning. I don’t understand this at all, but it gives me some hope for better days. Any thoughts?

    1. Wow, that is amazing, Dee! I’ve never heard of Lyme symptoms disappearing after getting the flu, but nothing about this disease surprises me anymore. ha

      I really haven’t been sick (in the traditional sense of the word) with colds and flu since getting Lyme 5 1/2 years ago….with 2 exceptions:

      1. 2 1/2 years into my Lyme illness I got a horrible case of the flu and was sick for almost 2 weeks. But, my Lyme symptoms persisted throughout the illness. I had just started treatment for Lyme a couple of months before.

      2. Currently I’m sick with an awful virus…all the symptoms of the flu but I tested negative for influenza. Having a Lyme flare too.

      I’m hoping us getting sick is a good sign. I’m encouraged by every little improvement I see and am thankful to feel better than I did last year. I hope you’re seeing the same.

      I’m so sorry your pain is returning but we can (and we will) get better! Hang in there and keep the hope, girl, and please keep in touch! Prayers that your health will continue to improve. Thanks for visiting the blog and hope to see you back soon!

  4. I asked my immunologist about this. He suggested it could be Interferon related. Inteferon that our bodies make – not the drug kind. Also curious – with me – I also have an immune deficiency – ie CVID – which for normal people means tons of infections unless on IVIG. When I was treating for Lyme years ago with Abx and was on IVIG I would get lots of resp. infections. I stopped treating Lyme and Co’s (gave up) – also stopped IVIG – and knock wood – still no other infections (that I know of – hard to tell).

    1. Hey Susan! Thanks for sharing your knowledge here!

      How interesting about the Interferon. I’ve read that the Lyme disease spirochete activates an Interferon response by our immune cells but definitely want to learn more about this.

      How curious that getting Lyme (and stopping the treatments) seemed to change your body’s response. Isn’t Lyme the strangest thing?
      You’ve given me much to think about and research (the book nerd that I am). 😉 Thank you!

      I hope and pray that your health is improved. Please keep me updated on how you’re doing. I’m grateful to have you here and hope to hear from you soon! XO

  5. I am so relieved to have “stumbled” onto your page after googling why I never catch colds anymore. My whole life if I even saw someone with a cold from a distance I was the first to catch it. After having my last child 4 years ago, something changed. I believe it was that pregnancy that triggered some sort of autoimmune disease. I have yet to get an actual diagnosis (negative for Lyme), but some of my blood tests are consistently off (suggesting the possibility of autoimmune disease). I cannot digest the majority of foods I once was able to eat, I have increased joint and muscle pain, dry eyes and mouth, terrible fatigue, and many other strange symptoms. Sometime in the last two years I began to notice I would NEVER catch any of the colds my husband or children had when normally I would catch it within 24 hours. My husband noticed this as well. I haven’t had a single cold or flu since. I have suspected it was my over active immune system since there were a few times I would start to feel something and then it would promptly go away. I’ve never been so sad to not get a cold! I wish there was more medical info on this phenomenon. Still searching for answers.

    1. I hear you, Jan and I’m so glad you ended up here in your search! I’ve been searching for answers to this strange phenomenon for years now and I’m thankful that so many people have responded. I’m learning a lot!

      Other than Lyme I’ve read that this occurs with other groups too, such as MS and others.

      I used to catch common colds and viruses several times a year when I was teaching. Nothing major – just the occasional illness.

      Wow, so many of your symptoms sound familiar to me! Did you just have the one Lyme test? You may already know, but the traditional Lyme tests are notoriously inaccurate. I’m not saying you have Lyme at all, just might be worth looking into further with your symptoms.

      I tested negative to the first Lyme test they gave me, but then tested positive to several tests after I became very sick and bedridden. Many others say that they never tested positive for the test but they were diagnosed based on their symptoms and/or knowledge of a tick bite. If you’d want to look into this further, ILADS.org is an excellent resource.

      Also wanted to mention that after I got Lyme (and it went undiagnosed and untreated for 2 years) I tested positive for a few autoimmune conditions including: Sjogren’s Syndrome (what Venus Williams has). It can cause dry mouth and eyes, chronic fatigue and body pain; Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD); am positive for RNP antibodies and ANA positive.

      A rheumatologist can test you for autoimmune conditions.

      I’m so sorry you’re having allergies to food. It’s frustrating when you feel like you can’t eat anything. I’ve had several allergic reactions to foods I ate often, including most vegetables. My allergist told me to stop eating them for a while then gradually introduce them back and this has helped. I just have to be careful not to eat the same foods day after day.

      Hoping that by sharing this with you it will help you in some way.

      Thank you for visiting the site. Please keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing. You can also email me at healthylife@lorigeurin.com. XO

  6. I have also experienced this.

    One day I was explaining this to my then 13 year old daughter and she excitedly said,
    “You’ve found a cure for the common cold! Lyme Disease!”
    We both broke out in big smiles and laughter.

    It was an awesome silver lining moment. 🙂

  7. Oh we’re definitely getting the cold and flu. We think we don’t because we don’t get the “normal” symptoms. Our body just isn’t fighting it so we aren’t getting the immune response that causes “normal” symptoms.

    1. This was hard for me to wrap my brain around for a while, Wendy, but I’ve read/heard this enough times that it’s starting to make sense.

      It is counterintuitive, (at least for me) because it seems like if you have a weakened immune system that you would get sick more often.

      Thanks for weighing in on this!

  8. I came across this as I was searching for a reason as to why my partner has been sick for 6 days where I started having symptoms yesterday but woke up today feeling normal. I’ve been undergoing treatment for chronic Lyme and Babesiosis since July, I was hoping perhaps all of the supplements I take helped protect me, but now I’m wondering if, like Kim, perhaps my immune system is too weak to fight any additional battles beyond what it’s already doing. My doctor did discover that I’d had a Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infection, when I finished a Z pack so many symptoms that I’d been complaining to my doctor about since 2014 (drenching sweats, hot flashes, skin changes) completely vanished, so clearly my body had been trying to fight the infection for 3 years with no luck. I suppose my treatment isn’t going along as well as I’d thought if I am not getting sick the way an otherwise healthy person does.
    If any further information regarding this arises, please let me know.

    1. Hi, Carey, I’m so glad you visited the site and hope you’ll come back!

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with chronic Lyme, Babesiosis and other illnesses. But I’m thankful some of your symptoms are gone now thanks to treatment. Prayers for continued healing with your ongoing treatments. For me it’s been a long journey working to grow stronger and get healthier, but I’m gradually seeing improvements and that’s incredibly encouraging.

      If/when I learn more about this issue I will try to add it to the post. Thanks!

  9. I was first diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease about 20 years ago. For the first five or so years, I’d experience periodical flare-ups involving a variety of terrible symptoms from severe headaches,to joint and muscle pain, to speech aphasia, all of which — thankfully — could be quelled with a course of antibiotics. At some point though, I stopped experiencing those flare-ups, and around the same time, I also stopped getting colds and the flu.I have literally not been sick in 15 years, nor have I experienced any further symptoms of Lyme. It’s as though I have a hyper-immune system now and I’m not complaining. As long as I feel great and my doctor continues to give me a clean bill of health every year, I’ll take it.

    1. Wow, thanks so much for sharing your experience, Amy! I’m truly sorry you’ve experienced so many Lyme symptoms, but thankful that you’ve stopped getting flare-ups and haven’t been sick for 15 years! From my perspective this is amazing and so encouraging to someone who is currently in the trenches with Lyme.

      It’s interesting to me how this crazy Lyme disease can impact us. Although I’m better that I was a few years ago, I still have symptoms and frequent flare-ups and admit that they can be discouraging. But there is always hope for anyone with chronic Lyme to get better and that’s what I’m counting on and working towards.

      Your story is incredibly encouraging – Thanks again for sharing!

  10. I was told that because the Lyme is the top dog in your system it has the ability to suppress (including our immune system) other bacteria and viruses that you may contract. It also has to do with the biofilms and the lyme being able to control who gets to wreak its havoc at which time. So it’s not as though you aren’t getting the viruses and bacteria, they are still in your body, it’s just that they have been tucked away awaiting their turn with you. People who are being treated for Lyme who start to get colds and flus is a GREAT sign…it’s a sign that the Lyme load has been reduced in the body and now theirs a new top dog in town, which could be a flu or cold, that gets to take over. Your immune system is also working better by this time as it’s also no longer being controlled by the Lyme and isn’t as overwhelmed. You’ll start having typical immune responses now like fever, chills, sneezing, etc. However it’s more likely that it would be the other coinfection’s that may manifest themselves before the common colds and flus do. it’s like the process of peeling back the layers of the onion. You have to slowly knock out them out one by one.

    It’s funny because I used to joke with myself every time someone around me got a cold or flu. I used to laugh and say to myself ha ha I never get sick. If I only knew then what I know now that the reason I wasn’t getting sick is because of my lyme disease, I certainly wouldn’t be laughing. I can’t wait for the day I’m sick in bed with the flu for a week!!

    1. Thanks so much for weighing in on this, CLD!

      We can learn so much from each other, especially in the realm of Lyme disease, where there is so much to be learned about how it works on our immune system (and everything else).

      It makes sense that the bacteria and viruses still enter our bodies and hang out there even if we don’t experience the symptoms.

      Thanks for sharing a great explanation of why we don’t often get sick like others do. Having Lyme has definitely changed my perspective, and I totally get what you’re saying. 😉

      I hope you’re continually feeling better and healing from the Lyme. Please keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing!

  11. My doctor explained a lot of the pain, etc. in Lyme is from inflamation. When our immune system is overactive you get a lot of the Lyme (& autoimmune) symptoms. It’s only recently that I’ll feel like I am catching cold/flu & the next day it’s just the “normal” bleh.

    1. Hi Claudia,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with Lyme. While I’m never glad to hear that someone has Lyme, it certainly helps us all when we share what we’ve learned and what we’re going through.

      I’ve heard this about the Lyme pain being caused by inflammation too. Isn’t it crazy how our immune system can show up in this way, causing all the autoimmune issues, but then when it comes to catching the flu….nada?

      So do you feel like your health is improving overall as you’re beginning to catch cold and the flu a bit?

      Thanks again for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts! I hope you’ll be back soon!

      XO,

      Lori

  12. Hi Kim,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    I’ve never heard it explained this way, but it does make sense to me. So do the “sick” germs just accumulate inside us and add to the toxic load since we can’t fight them off?

    I’m so happy you stopped by my blog and hope you come back very soon!

    Also, I hope you’re making good progress towards healing from Lyme and feeling better! Please keep in touch!

    Sending you hugs!

  13. Hi, for decades I never got a cold or a flu, at least that’s what I thought. What I was told is that I never got the symptoms of a cold or flu because the symptoms are your immune system working and your body fightingoff a cold or flu. So I guess since my immune system has been compromised from Lyme it isn’t working so the symptoms don’t appear. Does that make sense?

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