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Houston research finds feeling LONELY can make colds worse

 

Forget ‘man flu’: Feeling LONELY and being single can make your cold symptoms worse

  • Participants were infected with a cold and quarantined in a room for five days
  • Those who scored as lonely reported a greater severity of symptoms
  • Researchers hope the findings will act as an incentive for lonely people to be more socially active 

We’ve all experienced a horrible cold that’s left us coughing, sneezing, and feeling fairly sorry for ourselves.But a new study suggests that these symptoms are even worse for people without a strong network of friends and family.The researchers hope the findings will act as an incentive for lonely people to be more socially active.

Scroll down for videoThe study involved 159 participants aged 18 to 55, who were infected with a cold and then quarantined for five days in hotel rooms.

Each participant was scored in advance on the Short Loneliness Scale and the Social Network Index and monitored during and after the five-day stay.

After adjusting for demographics like gender and age, the season, depressive affect and social isolation, the results showed those who felt lonely were no more likely to get a cold than those who weren’t.

But those who were scored as lonely and became infected, reported a greater severity of symptoms than those recorded in previous studies used as controls.

Researchers from Rice University in Houston found that feeling lonely put people at a 25 per cent higher risk of an early death and generally poorer health.

Lonely people were also found to be more likely to develop serious health conditions such as coronary heart disease.

Ms Angie LeRoy, who worked on the study, said: ‘Loneliness puts people at risk for premature mortality and all kinds of other physical illnesses.

‘But nothing had been done to look at an acute but temporary illness that we’re all vulnerable to, like the common cold.’

The researchers drew a distinction between feeling lonely and actual social isolation.

Ms LeRoy added: ‘This paper is about the quality of your relationships, not the quantity.

‘You can be in a crowded room and feel lonely. That perception is what seems to be important when it comes to these cold symptoms.’

The study involved 159 participants aged 18 to 55, who were infected with a cold and then quarantined for five days in hotel rooms.

Each participant was scored in advance on the Short Loneliness Scale and the Social Network Index and monitored during and after the five-day stay.

After adjusting for demographics like gender and age, the season, depressive affect and social isolation, the results showed those who felt lonely were no more likely to get a cold than those who weren’t.

But those who were scored as lonely and became infected, reported a greater severity of symptoms than those recorded in previous studies used as controls.The size of the participants’ social networks appeared to have no bearing on how sick they felt, she added.

Chronic loneliness is a more permanent feeling of loneliness when a person feels isolated regardless of whether they are surrounded or alone.

Loneliness increased the risk of early death by 45 percent and the chance of developing dementia in later life by 64 percent.Those who experience loneliness are at risk for a variety of health problems including:

Ms LeRoy said: ‘Previous research has shown that different psycho-social factors like feeling rejected or feeling left out or not having strong social bonds with other people do make people feel worse physically, mentally and emotionally.

‘So we had that general framework to work with.’

Dr Chris Fagundes, who also worked on the study, explained the effect may be the same for those under other kinds of stress.

He said: ‘Anytime you have an illness, it’s a stressor, and this phenomenon would probably occur.

‘A predisposition, whether it’s physical or mental, can be exaggerated by a subsequent stressor.

‘In this case, the subsequent stressor is getting sick, but it could be the loss of a loved one, or getting breast cancer, which are subjects we also study.’Doctors should take psychological factors into account at intake on a regular basis. It would definitely help them understand the phenomenon when the person comes in sick.’

Ms LeRoy added: ‘Millions of people miss work each year because of [the common cold]. And that has to do with how they feel, not necessarily with how much they’re blowing their noses.’

The findings are also an incentive to be more socially active, and she added: ‘If you build those networks – consistently working on them and your relationships – when you do fall ill, it may not feel so bad.’

We’ve all experienced a horrible cold that’s left us coughing, sneezing, and feeling fairly sorry for ourselves. But a new study suggests that these symptoms are even worse for people without a strong network of friends and family (stock image)  b-error

In the study, those who were scored as lonely and became infected, reported a greater severity of symptoms than those recorded in previous studies used as controls (stock image)

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.ukhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4364050/Feeling-LONELY-make-cold-symptoms-worse.html

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