If you feel lonely, you’ll have more trouble tolerating the misery of a common cold or the flu. Those who are nurtured by family and friends don’t feel as bad as those who are on their own.
We’ve known for a while that loneliness leads to early death and a host of physical illnesses, but what about those temporary episodes?
When people were studied after being infected with a cold virus using nasal drops, the ones who had a caring social network scored lower on rating scales that measured their symptoms.
Having a supportive network doesn’t keep you from getting a cold or impact your ability to recover from it, but if you’re lonely, you’re likely to suffer worse symptoms.
It may be the case that being ill heightens the feelings of vulnerability, being left out or not having strong social bonds.
Doctors need to ask about friends and family when seeing patients so that symptoms don’t escalate into a truly threatening disease.
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