Can I re-catch a cold or flu from my boyfriend or girlfriend?

“My boyfriend is sick with my cold. Should I avoid him until he is better?”

Flu by KKfromBB, on FlickrIf you are asking me whether or not you can “re-catch” your own cold that you just had and gave to someone else, then the answer is no, with a small “but”.

There are many different types (aka ‘strains’) of cold virus out there. If a strain of cold virus that you’ve never caught before enters you body, you will most likely fall ill. While you are feeling ill, your immune system (your personal army against disease-causing agents) builds up very specific weapons (called antibodies) that are useful for killing that very specific type of cold virus. When sufficient numbers of these new weapons are manufactured, your immune system will subdue this virus, and you’ll begin to feel better.

In the future, the strain of cold virus that just caused you to fall ill may enter your body once again. This time around, however, it will be killed with such speed that you won’t feel sick. That’s because your immune system, your ‘army’, has a good memory: it stockpiles the specific weapons (antibodies) it made against that strain of cold virus for the future. If you ever encounter it again, the weapons are ready made and the virus is quickly destroyed the second time around.

So, even though you may “catch” the cold virus you gave to your boyfriend by breathing it in, you won’t actually get sick.

My small but: if you are severely immunocompromised, meaning your personal army/immune system is greatly weakened, then you may actually get sick with the same strain of cold virus again (and it could kill you this time around).

So if this is your boyfriend who has ‘your’ cold then don’t let it stop you giving him a kiss!

Question from Suzie Downes via Facebook

Answer by Artem Cheprasov

Image Source: Flickr via KKfromBB

Article by Artem Cheprasov

January 13, 2014

Dr. Artem Cheprasov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He then moved to the U.S. when he was a little boy. So no, he is not a spy. Or is he? He finished his studies in veterinary medicine at the top 10% of his class, conducted research, and discovered a cool mathematics algorithm; but we cannot confirm this as both Washington and Moscow have refused to comment on this matter either because he really is a spy or more likely because they have no idea who he even is.

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