Supporting your immune system...when you're on immunosuppressants

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Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 4/2/2008 1:48 PM (GMT -6)   
After a 5 day hospitalization in early March my docs finally started me on Remicade and 6MP - I've been sooo happy to not flare, but I've now got a cold that I'm afraid won't go away. I'd love to hear from veterans of these meds: other than handwashing, what can you do to support your immune system to NOT get sick when you're actively taking medications that suppress your immune system??

Would trying to strengthen yourself with alternative therapies - supplements, acupuncture, herbs etc. - work at cross purposes to the meds? Is there anything you can do once you do get sick?

I know for many of us the sniffles are a TOTAL walk in the park compared to the heinousness of flaring, but is there a way to actually get totally healthy?

Thanks so much,


Dx'ed 2003, hospital cat scan after emergency hospitalization 3/08 showed left sided colitis now spreading across transverse colon
Remicade, 50mg 6MP, omega 3s, Multi, vitamin D

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 3238
   Posted 4/2/2008 1:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey Jones! I'm on Imuran (similar to 6mp). I do tend to get sick more since I started Imuran. But let me also say I have a 2 1/2 year old that goes to preschool. He brings home tons of germs for me!

Anyway I hand sanitize constantly. I also take a multi-vitamin that has immune support (which is basically extra vitamin c).
Tabitha (Tab)

100mg Azathioprine, 2 Fibercon, Colazal-9 a day, Acidopholis Pearls, Nexium
Co-Moderator UC Forum

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 526
   Posted 4/2/2008 2:29 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been on Imuran about 10 months and actually seem to stay healthier than many of my office mates, who have gotten crazy flus this past winter that I never got. I use hand sanitizer and I do NOT touch door knobs. I am sort of a freak about door knobs at this point - I always use a paper towel to open them or, better yet, hope my fiane will for me. I also take extra Vitamin C, and I exercise routinely (which is good for the immune system) and I sleep 8 hours a night.
Pancolitis dx 3/07
9 Colazal a day (was on 12 Asacol/day, but suddenly got sick from it)
150mg Imuran/day (steroid dependent, reached this dose 9/07)
Cortfoam in AM, Rowasa in PM (is working wonders for me thus far)
Various vitamins, bit of fish oil, a probiotic.
Getting married October, 2008!!!!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 2142
   Posted 4/2/2008 2:29 PM (GMT -6)   
never stick your fingers in your eyes or up your nose (lol), unless you have just washed your hands. I have been doing that and just being extra careful about washing my hands.

This winter I had two minor colds (congestion, sneezing, a day or two of phlegm), the first lasted a few weeks longer than normal (runny nose). Other than that my husband had 3 colds and my sister 5 colds and they are not on any immune suppressants.

I am on azathioprine (generic of Imuran).

Seriously, I think the not touching your eyes is a real help!
Beth, 32 ~ Major Flare Sept/Oct 07 ~ almost in remission
UC dx'd March 2000 (30 cenitmeters as of 2005-proctosigmoiditis)
Azathioprine 200mg 1xday nightly; Calcium and Vit D 500mg 3xday, Multi Vit, Folic Acid 400mg 2xday, Prilosec, Probiotics.
Minimal Change Disease (Kidney Disorder) dx'd Sept 2007 - partial remission since 03/08
Prednisone 25mg 1xday (taper 5mg a week from 60 = ), Simvastatin 20mg 1xday, Diovan 160mg 2xday. Enalpril 10mg 1xday, Fursomide 20mg 1xday, Fosomax 70mg 1xweek. MCD may be from hypersensitivty to 5ASA drugs.  Do you have edema? If so, check your protiens!
Pre-Diabetic from Prednisone use - Low carb/sugar diet & exercise.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 3402
   Posted 4/2/2008 3:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm crazy about hand washing. Since starting the Imuran, I've noticed fewer sinus infections. Not sure if it's the meds or the extra precautions I've been using - hand sanitizer, hand washing, not touching eyes and nose (face in general).

Sleep is a major factor for me as well - always has been. I knew in college if I didn't sleep enough a cold would haunt me soon.
Pan-colitis and GERD diagnosed May 2003
Osteopenia diagnosed Feb 2006
Status:  Flaring :(
40mg pred, Asacol 12 per day,  Azathioprine 75mg, Rowasa, Canasa, Aciphex, Forvia, and Pro-Bio
Co-Mod for the UC forum:  Keep HealingWell running smoothly:

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 460
   Posted 4/2/2008 3:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm on 6MP and I rarely get sick. Friends have been sick all winter and I hardly got a cold. I don't wash my hands that often and I don't sanitize anything. I know my immune system is supposed to be suppressed but I guess I'm lucky in that I don't get sick. I was like that before UC though, I never got sick.
Female, Age 37
Diagnosed w/c.diff 7/02 when pregnant w/1st and only child during 2nd trimester(wasn't on antibiotics)
C.diff flare within weeks of delivering baby 1/03
Diagnosed with UC 2/03
Current Meds:
75mg 6-MP
Cortenema 2x daily

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 77
   Posted 4/2/2008 3:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks so much to everyone. The hand sanitizer is definitely something I've been meaning to pick up, and now with these testimonials, I'll do it today (though Tab, I'm not sure what you can do to help insure against germy-toddlers! ;) For those of you who have gotten colds - did they last long? Anyone try alt. therapies and have success?

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10068
   Posted 4/2/2008 5:17 PM (GMT -6)   
If you work, clean the receiver of your office telephone each morning. You never know who's used it and breathed their cold viruses over it during the night. And as someone said, keep your hands away from your face.
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Asacol, Rowasa, Pentasa, Prednisone, Entocort, Azathioprine
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri.
In remission since April, 2006. Remicade has been my wonder drug.
Co-Moderator UC Forum

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