Oh those nasty things just get in the way of our good health! Such things as Parasites, Viruses, Bacteria, and other causes of disease.
Before going on, I am not a medically trained person and in no way recommend you take any action without first referring to your medical health team in these situations. Please take this as information only and not a recommendation to self-medicate. Please see your own health team.
Well, there are many kinds of infections and I’m going to tell you about some of them here, that actually can/will make you more sick than you ever thought likely.
If you have autoimmune disease, you also have “leaky gut” (intestinal permeability). That means that the junctions in your intestines are not closed, where food, and bacteria can cross into your blood stream very easily causing all kinds of havoc in your body. For example, if you eat say gluten or dairy (casein), and you have leaky gut syndrome, these particles can enter your body through the open junctions, which can then cause your immune system to attack those particles as invaders. But sometimes what happens instead is the immune system will attack, say your thyroid instead, because it is now confused as to what it should attack. A little complicated, but that is the human body – a very complex machine.
Parasites that you never knew you had, can be good, but can also be very bad. Have you ever travelled internationally? To the Caribbean? To South America? To Africa? or any other country other than your own and either ate local food, or drank the water? Then you probably have a parasite and may not even be aware of it. I know that when I visited the Dominican Republic many years ago, I contracted one, but was never treated for it then. Just thought it would pass. But I think not, and still haven’t been tested, but am sure my test result would come back positive. It may be part of the reason I have the autoimmune diseases I have today, as it was not long after that trip I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and possible Hashimoto’s Disease. As it turned out, I’ve had autoimmune thyroid disease since then.
Viruses are microbs, both viral and bacterial, that cannot reproduce on their own, but need a host in order for the cells to be reproduced using the hosts cells.
Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms that thrive in diverse environments. They can live within soil, in the ocean and inside the human gut. Humans’ relationship with bacteria is complex. Sometimes they lend a helping hand, by curdling milk into yogurt, or helping with our digestion. At other times they are destructive, causing diseases like pneumonia and MRSA. (source: LiveScience.org)
The Chicken Pox virus can remain dormant in your body until you become very stressed and wind up with Shingles! Our sons had Chicken Pox as young children. The oldest had ONE mark on his body, while the youngest broke out about 10 days later with pox ALL OVER his body including in his mouth! However, even though they both came out in some kind of eruption, the virus still stays dormant in their bodies (and yours if you’ve had Chicken Pox, and maybe if you haven’t but were exposed). When I was about five years old, both my sister and I had them at the same time! That was fun for our parents and family, as we were moving into a new house (to us) at the time and had to stay out on the lawn on mattresses until everything was moved in! What fun, right?
Many infections lay in wait and may or may not cause you issues over time. However, when your body’s immune system is compromised is the ideal time for these things to raise their ugly heads. As in the case of autoimmune diseases. They can raise their heads in many forms.
Molecular Mimicry. PubMed.org states that “Molecular mimicry is a phenomenon that has been discovered as one of several ways in which autoimmunity can be evoked. A molecular mimicking event is, however, more than an epiphenomenon despite its low statistical probability of occurring and these events have serious implications in the onset of many human autoimmune disorders.” When a cell is being mimicked the immune system may decide it is an invader and will attack that cell/organ, which could then set off an autoimmune disease.
Bystander activation happens when a bacteria or virus invades say your thyroid gland and your immune system tries to respond to kill the infection, but the killer cells accidentally attack the thyroid itself creating inflammation that results in more immune cells being rushed to the thyroid attacking the gland itself.
The hijacking effect happens when an infection (such as Epstein Barr Virus) hijacks the thyroid cells’ DNA to hide from the immune system. However, the immune system detects the virus anyway and attacks the thyroid cells the virus has attached itself to.
How do you know if you have an infection? Because some infections are pretty subtle, it’s possible for you to have more than one at a time without you knowing it. Any viral infection, including flu, can possibly trigger inflammation of the thyroid which can show as either hypo or hyperthyroidism. In some people, this will last only a few weeks and have little repercussions, for others though it can result in autoimmune thyroid disease.
What types of infections are we talking about?
Herpes (of which there are many) – herpes simplex type 1 and type 2 (oral and genital herpes), and herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) which has been tied to thyroid/autoimmune conditions. These types of virus stay in your body for life, but are not always active and only flare up once in a while. When you are stressed, either physically or emotionally, stress hormones will suppress your immune system, leaving your body open to invasions. Over time viruses have evolved to become active whenever stress hormones are released. So, stress and infections go hand in hand.
Hepatitis C – this virus attacks the liver, but chronic untreated hepatitis C patients have a higher rate of autoimmune thyroid disease. Unfortunately, even if you’ve been treated, you still are likely to have an autoimmune thyroid disease due to the fact the drug used to treat the infection suppresses the immune system, leaving you open to more problems.
SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) happens when your gut bacteria are out of balance allowing too many nasty bacteria to build up in your intestines. This infection is linked to hypothyroidism and studies have found that up to half of hypothyroid patients have it. This is particularly challenging for those with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
H. Pylori (Helicobacter pylori) is the bacteria responsible for gastric ulcers. Prior to 1984, doctors thought that ulcers were caused by stress, when in fact it was a bacteria, that could have been treated with antibiotics. This is very common due to the fact that it can be passed on to others. I have had H. Pylori infections ever since I was 20 years old (long time ago). Both my parents had ulcers. This one is not a hereditary issue, but an infectious one.
Yersinia is a bacteria that can stay in the body well after a bout of what seems to be flu. It is contracted either by direct contact or by eating infected meat. A Yersinia infection can mimic delinquent thyroid cells (molecular mimicry at play here), allowing your immune system to attack the thyroid possibly triggering Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Graves disease.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite found in undercooked pork and infected cat feces. If infected, you might have mild flu like symptoms with tender lymph nodes and achy muscles. Pregnant women should especially be aware of this one as it poses a risk to the fetus.
Blastocystis hominis – if you have travelled to the developing world, you probably have picked this one up. This particular parasite doesn’t seem to cause any harm, but treating for this one has often resulted in symptoms of Hashimoto’s being resolved.
Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is the virus you get when you have mononucleosis (aka “mono” and the “Kissing disease”) and probably didn’t know that it never goes away, nasty thing. Some people actually never have the effects of the virus, but are infected and carry it around with them. Unfortunately, even if you’ve never had mono you could still be carrying this virus around and at some point become very sick with an autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of EBV – Fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, rash, sore throat, swollen glands of the neck, weakness and sore muscles. Children might have flu like symptoms, young adults will likely come down with “mono”. If you’ve been in close contact with an infected individual, you will likely have contracted EBV yourself, but may not have had any symptoms at all, due to the mild effect it might have.
Some common bacterial infections include (and are not limited to): impetigo, boils, listeria, salmonella, chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, meningitis, urinary tract infection, respiratory tract infections. These infections can be treated using antibiotics. However, if these infections are not bacterial but viral, that is another issue altogether and cannot be treated that simply.
There are many tests available that can be run to see if you have any of these infections – blood tests for EBV, herpes, toxoplasmosis, hepatitis C, H. pylori; stool tests for H. pylori, Blastocystis hominis; and breath tests for H. pylori and SIBO.
OK, so if you’ve been tested and found to have any of these infections, what do you do next? Well, it will depend entirely on if the infection is bacterial (antibiotics, or herbs), viral (an antiviral), or parasites (you’ll need to be treated by your doctor who will likely prescribe antibiotics).
If you have to use antibiotics to help relieve your system of either bacterial or parasitical infection, please ensure you take a very good probiotic to help replace the good bacteria removed by the antibiotics. It has been suggested that you use a probiotic that contains at least 50-100 billion CFU’s including S. boulardii which helps prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea, as well as C. difficile which can become a serious issue when taking high doses of antibiotics.
You can heal yourself of infections and make yourself less susceptible to further damage to your body’s very sensitive eco-system.
This is by far not all the information I could include here, but think this is quite enough for now. I hope it has been informative and of some use to you either right now or down the road.
Have a wonderful day and week ahead.