Can a new location make you perpetually sick?

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  • Thread starter Pythagorean
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In summary, it is likely that the increased exposure to germs and viruses is causing the increased number of colds. However, it is possible that the immune system will eventually adapt to new surroundings.
  • #1
Pythagorean
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Ever since my family and I moved to a new country, I notice we've been getting sick a lot. It's not life-threatening and they're common bugs, they're not even bad enough to keep me home from work. Does this mean our like, virus definitions are updating, or something? Or are we just going to be sicker more often in this place than in our home. We're in a way more populated place now and I use public transportation and we have kids going on playdates.

So obviously, I'm getting more exposure. I'm just curious if the immune system eventually adapts to new places like this or if people in some areas just deal with more occurrences of disease.
 
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  • #2
being in a new place means being exposed to bacteria, germs and virii that you've never been exposed to and your immune system hasn't defended against. after a while, once your body has built up its immunity to the local germs, you'll probably find you're not getting sick as often.
 
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  • #3
Probably it's all of the things you mentioned, the more contact you have, the more exposed to contagion you become.
 
  • #4
Is the new country so different from the one you lived in?
 
  • #5
More to do with the differences in city, not country: population, diversity, population density, and population turnover are all higher here.
 
  • #6
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/mace-lab/publications/articles/2011/Barnes_Evol11_TB_Urban_EV.pdf :p
 
  • #7
nice find!
 
  • #8
I know (anecdotally) new teachers have one hell of a time their first year. Constant sniffles and sore throat.
 
  • #9
Do you know it's bugs and not say, an allergy? Austin in Texas is famous for its allergies.
 
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  • #10
I think it's a bug because of the affect on digestive systems. Just a hunch, though. We're definitely in farm country and high pollen days aren't much fun for the wife, but they don't seem to bother me much.
 
  • #11
I've lived and worked in twelve different countries in Europe, the Middle East, Eastern Asia, and South America. This is anecdotal commentary, and not scientific.

It's common to get stomach/intestinal problems during the first few months in a new country. For instance, Peace Corps told us that it would happen to most volunteers when we arrived "in Country" and that it would gradually diminish. That was correct; all the volunteers in my group suffered the sh*** at first (which got nicknamed "Tehran Trots"), but after a few months and lots of Lomotil, most of us returned to normal. Many say "it's the water!" There seems to be different bacteria in the water at each location, and upon arrival our gut contains only whatever types we started with. I think these different bugs are incompatible, and once our digestive system re-acclimates itself, the problem goes away. This same process I've passed through many times when moving to a different country.
 
  • #12
Hi Pythagorean,

Are you still getting sick quite often? If so, you might be reacting to local toxins in the air, water, foods, or hard goods. They can cause digestive system upset, and/or other symptoms. They can also make allergies worse, but of course so could exposure to a new type of pollen.
 
  • #13
I think you an atyy were right about allergies. It was probably a combination of a bug once or twice but then allergies always. The pollen levels are high this time of year and I'm getting the symptoms. The worst one is the lethargy, ugh!
 
  • #14
I was wondering the same thing... I am from Sweden and I never had any major coughs or colds and if I did I'd fight them off in a few days... Ever since moving to England I am more or less always under the weather.. I just can't fight off anything.. Is my immune system simply not equipped to deal with some bacteria or virus here?
 
  • #15
Pythagorean said:
Ever since my family and I moved to a new country, I notice we've been getting sick a lot. It's not life-threatening and they're common bugs, they're not even bad enough to keep me home from work. Does this mean our like, virus definitions are updating, or something? Or are we just going to be sicker more often in this place than in our home. We're in a way more populated place now and I use public transportation and we have kids going on playdates.

So obviously, I'm getting more exposure. I'm just curious if the immune system eventually adapts to new places like this or if people in some areas just deal with more occurrences of disease.
I know this is an old post, but I’m experiencing the same thing. Moved from LA to San Diego and have had 5 terrible colds in only 5 months! Before that I hadn’t been sick in 5 years. (Which is ironic since LA was more stressful, expensive and has worse air quality). I work from home office in new building with no kids or pets at home. Healthy vegan, sleep well, exercise 5x a week, take vitamins, plenty of sunshine...There’s no other explanation besides new city. If it doesn’t change soon I’m moving back to LA! I’ll assume your situation improved by now?
 
  • #16
Welcome to the PF. :smile:
Jen Lyn said:
I work from home office in new building with no kids or pets at home
Hmm, that takes care of most means of catching the virus. How old is the new building? Does it seem like the air circulation is not very good because of insulation? (Sick building syndrome)

Do you have a GP doc in your new city yet? I would discuss this with him/her to see if they have some ideas...
 
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  • #17
I have excellent air circulation with 2 walls of windows on 3rd floor. Only 10 mms from ocean. It’s even a green certified building...fake wood floors, solar panels, etc. Built in 2012. I do attend a lot of meetings at night in close proximity such as yoga studios, gym classes and support groups. But am very careful with hand sanitizers, etc.
 
  • #18
Are you certain that they were colds? How long did they last? Productive cough for several days near the end to clear out your lungs? Yellow sputum coming up with the productive coughs? If not, some of them may have been allergies, since you are in a new place with different plants, etc.

Do you get a flu shot every year? You didn't have a fever with these colds, right?

And you didn't reply to my question about seeing a doc about this... :smile:
 
  • #19
I have allergies to lots of things, including some gyms. So that might be one source of problems.
If I have bad allergy symptoms, I often get secondary infections (probably bacterial).

Might not be really relevant to San Diego, but is to LA where you moved from, I get really bad allergies when the Santa Anna winds happen.

Being at sea on the other hand, are the opposite for me, no allergies.
Which way does the wind go in San Diego?
 
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  • #20
Jen Lyn said:
If it doesn’t change soon I’m moving back to LA! I’ll assume your situation improved by now?

Yea it's gotten better, but never ceased to Alaskan levels. Perhaps the limited population, remoteness, and coldness of my hometown reduces the longevity and diversity of disease causing germs.
 
  • #21
berkeman said:
Are you certain that they were colds? How long did they last? Productive cough for several days near the end to clear out your lungs? Yellow sputum coming up with the productive coughs? If not, some of them may have been allergies, since you are in a new place with different plants, etc.

Do you get a flu shot every year? You didn't have a fever with these colds, right?

And you didn't reply to my question about seeing a doc about this... :smile:

Positive it's a cold yes, at least right now for certain. Perhaps some prior ones were allergies.

I have never had a flu shot as I have not had the flu since I moved to California 20 years ago. Also, they are quite problematic for many reasons. Since I work alone or by appointment with clients in their home, it seems unwarranted.

I have been waiting for my health insurance to transfer to San Diego so could not see a doctor until January 1. However, doctors can't do anything about the common cold so it ends up being a waste of time. To be honest, I have never been helped by a doctor -except 40 years ago when I needed stitches as a child. I tend to lean more toward holistic and eastern medicine and avoid hospitals and prescription drugs altogether. Even Tylenol makes me feel drugged. I am very sensitive to things like this. It has served me well as I have more energy than anyone I know. That is why I am so baffled right now.
 
  • #22
Pythagorean said:
Yea it's gotten better, but never ceased to Alaskan levels. Perhaps the limited population, remoteness, and coldness of my hometown reduces the longevity and diversity of disease causing germs.
That makes perfect sense. The less people the better air quality usually too.
 
  • #23
Jen Lyn said:
I have been waiting for my health insurance to transfer to San Diego so could not see a doctor until January 1. However, doctors can't do anything about the common cold so it ends up being a waste of time.
So it's after January 1 now, so you should be good to go. Yeah, we currently have little that we can do for the common cold virus except for the prevention measures that you are taking (hand washing, etc.), but my hope was that a doc visit might help to diagnose whether these were multiple colds or other things mixed in like allergies. There are definitely tests that a local doc can give you for local allergies, etc.

Hope you feel better soon. San Diego would be a fun place to live and work, IMO. (I was born in SoCal and moved all over the world with my Army family, but San Diego has always been a fun vacation destination...) :smile:
 
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  • #24
BillTre said:
I have allergies to lots of things, including some gyms. So that might be one source of problems.
If I have bad allergy symptoms, I often get secondary infections (probably bacterial).

Might not be really relevant to San Diego, but is to LA where you moved from, I get really bad allergies when the Santa Anna winds happen.

Being at sea on the other hand, are the opposite for me, no allergies.
Which way does the wind go in San Diego?

Good question. I don't believe we have had Santa Ana winds since I moved here. However, it's possible that some of the bad air quality is blowing in from the fires up north in Santa Barbara and Ventura County. Although, my phone app says the air quality here is always good. I am within a few blocks of a major street and a mile from major freeway, but that was the same case in LA too.

Your allergy comment makes sense. I do have dust and smoke allergies and seem pretty sensitive to heavy chemicals/perfumes/cleaning agents too. Perhaps I am getting triggered with that first then catching a cold. I have an air purifier in my bedroom certified by the asthma society or something.

At first I thought perhaps I was detoxing from the bad LA air quality! But it would not be lasting so long.

I am going to have my groceries delivered until flu season is over. I have been hearing A LOT of coughing and sneezing at the grocery stores lately. I don't know why people go there sick when they offer free 2 hour delivery.
 
  • #25
berkeman said:
So it's after January 1 now, so you should be good to go. Yeah, we currently have little that we can do for the common cold virus except for the prevention measures that you are taking (hand washing, etc.), but my hope was that a doc visit might help to diagnose whether these were multiple colds or other things mixed in like allergies. There are definitely tests that a local doc can give you for local allergies, etc.

Hope you feel better soon. San Diego would be a fun place to live and work, IMO. (I was born in SoCal and moved all over the world with my Army family, but San Diego has always been a fun vacation destination...) :smile:

Thanks! San Diego is amazing. When I feel good, I feel really good here -and younger than ever. That's why these illnesses come as such a surprise (and contrast).

Yeah I'll go see doc I guess:-) j
 
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  • #26
berkeman said:
Productive cough for several days near the end to clear out your lungs? Yellow sputum coming up with the productive coughs?

So much for dinner. 🤢

I have had the same experience as Bobbywhy's 6-1/2 year old post. It takes a while to readjust to US/European/Japanese food. Even if it's the "same".
 
  • #27
Jen Lyn said:
fake wood floors,
Those are a possible source of allergens. The binders/solvents used in them gradually migrate to the air. The same can occur with carpets.

Not as often, but new upholstered furniture can create the same situation for some people. When the synthetic padding out-gasses, the common polyurethane foam is a trigger for some folks.

Cheers,
Tom
 
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  • #28
Vanadium 50 said:
So much for dinner. 🤢
Hey, it's a medical forum... :wink:
 
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  • #29
Doesn't look good for travelers to far and wide places from home.
Certainly, for some destinations checking out the recommended shots beforehand is a good idea.
 
  • #30
Water?
 
  • #31
Also, it is a common thing to 'share' all the new virus/bacteria gathered during vacation in the first weeks in kindergarten/elementary school: and once I've heard half a class getting some cold-like whatever from a transfer student.
So, sometimes just new community: new sickness. Takes a while to adapt.
 
  • #32
Children are primary vectors or pathogen sources for other vectors. Malaria, influenza, measles, for example.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52939/ discusses vectors, and reservoirs for pathogens.
In practical terms it means children bear the brunt of disease processes.
 
  • #33
Jen Lyn said:
I know this is an old post, but I’m experiencing the same thing. Moved from LA to San Diego and have had 5 terrible colds in only 5 months! Before that I hadn’t been sick in 5 years. (Which is ironic since LA was more stressful, expensive and has worse air quality). I work from home office in new building with no kids or pets at home. Healthy vegan, sleep well, exercise 5x a week, take vitamins, plenty of sunshine...There’s no other explanation besides new city. If it doesn’t change soon I’m moving back to LA! I’ll assume your situation improved by now?

I'm just curious if you found out eventually what was the cause? I have had something very similar happen. I moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan last year. It's now been 13 months. I have been itching, felt icky like I'm just getting over a cold or flu and I feel tired all the time and sore often. I'm determined to figure it out because I love the town where I've moved and I want to stay but I'd prefer to not feel so physically lousy so often.
 
  • #34
StingrayJane said:
I'm just curious if you found out eventually what was the cause? I have had something very similar happen. I moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan last year. It's now been 13 months. I have been itching, felt icky like I'm just getting over a cold or flu and I feel tired all the time and sore often. I'm determined to figure it out because I love the town where I've moved and I want to stay but I'd prefer to not feel so physically lousy so often.
Welcome to the PF. :smile:

Have you spoken with a doctor about this yet? They will probably be able to help you figure this out relatively quickly.
 
  • #35
Jen Lyn said:
I know this is an old post, but I’m experiencing the same thing. Moved from LA to San Diego and have had 5 terrible colds in only 5 months! Before that I hadn’t been sick in 5 years. (Which is ironic since LA was more stressful, expensive and has worse air quality). I work from home office in new building with no kids or pets at home. Healthy vegan, sleep well, exercise 5x a week, take vitamins, plenty of sunshine...There’s no other explanation besides new city. If it doesn’t change soon I’m moving back to LA! I’ll assume your situation improved by now?
Interesting.
For the last 30+ years, I've lived in Portland Oregon, and my sister has lived in San Diego.
The last 2 times she came to visit me, I got sick.
According to wikipedia, there are over 200 viruses that cause the common cold.
I wonder if certain viruses hang out in certain locations?

Rive said:
... it is a common thing to 'share' all the new virus/bacteria gathered during vacation in the first weeks in kindergarten/elementary school: and once I've heard half a class getting some cold-like whatever from a transfer student.
...

I would be interested in reading studies about this phenomena.
 
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