Your cold symptoms are your fault

I’m not usually one to play the blame game, but you need to know that when you get a cold, your symptoms are not the virus’s fault. They’re your fault.

Okay, so the rhinovirus (common cold) I drew looks like a floating cookie monster head. I take full responsibility for this, but you should know that rhinoviruses are indeed circular with lots of texture.  And at the time, blue seemed like a good color choice for this. 

Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body

I read about a study in Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: a day in the life or your body by Jennifer Ackerman (which I thoroughly enjoyed–go get it right now) in which participants were exposed to the rhinovirus and their responses were tracked. I don’t think I would have participated in this study willingly.

So like I said, the researchers exposed people to the cold virus. Almost everyone got infected with the virus, meaning it started replicating and destroying cells, but only 75% of the subjects developed the hallmark cold symptoms. That leaves a whopping 25% that can get a virus, but not get sick. How dare they.

And it gets worse. The people who exhibit the typical cold symptoms (stuffy nose, sore throat, etc.) are those with stronger immune systems.

The stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough are all caused by your body’s inflammatory response, a valiant effort to banish bodily invaders that just so happens to simultaneously make you miserable. Two birds, one stupid stone. Since people with “stronger” immune systems have a more pronounced inflammatory response, their experience of the common cold is made all the more miserable. Oh, the irony of it all.

Here’s sort of what happens.

I wasn’t about to attempt to accurately represent the complicated mess that we call sinuses, so here is an ultra-simplified version of your nose and throat.

Blood vessels dilate to bring immune cells to the area, but this also makes your nose feel stuffy.

In an effort to flush out the invader, your nose produces mucus.

The sheer power of this snot river may also stimulate your sneeze reflex.

And most unfortunately, nose goblins contain chemicals that activate pain nerves in your throat.

So while your body is all caught up making your miserable, it’s easy to entirely lose track of the virus that started this horrible mess.

I can see so many life lessons in this. Like “Sometimes our greatest strength is our greatest weakness.” Yeah, that’s deep.  Or, “Don’t get so freaked out about a problem that the real problem becomes your freaking out about it.” Or even, “Boogers. They make my throat hurt.” But mostly, “Don’t automatically pull out the big guns every time you have a problem. You never know, it might just go away.”
The inflammatory response is not unlike nuclear weaponry. It’ll definitely kill the enemy, but it might kill you too, bro.
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