“I’ve had this cold/flu thing forever and it just won’t away.”
Does this sound familiar?
If so, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common concerns I hear, especially at this time of year.
The question is, what is it? What’s going on?
A Lingering Chronic Infection?
On one hand, it could be a recent bug that your body can’t kick properly. On the other, it could be a germ your body seemed to have conquered successfully at the time; it may have merely gone dormant and recently “woken up” to wreak havoc again.
The infection may also be a “stealthy invader” that you weren’t even aware that you had picked up. It just came into your body and tricked your immune system into tolerating it…for a while.
Alternatively, it could be an organism that has translocated. Translocation is when a microbe–usually bacteria, or occasionally a fungus–decides to leave its usual place in your body and travel elsewhere. The microbe may have created no problem as long as it stayed where it belonged. However, when it takes up residence somewhere else in your body, it can cause problems. Microbes don’t care where they reside, but your body sure does!
Whatever the infection may be, it can become problematic. The symptoms aren’t just frivolous; your body is trying to tell you something.
Symptoms of a chronic infection may include:
- Intermittent fevers – recovery-relapse
- Fatigue/low energy
- Joint aches and/or pain
- Skin rashes or itching
- Sore throat
- Sinus congestion, chest congestion (including clearing one’s throat frequently)
- Sore muscles
- Bone pain, especially in the fingers
- Brain fog
- Lack of motivation
- Heart palpitations (irregular heartbeat)
- Abdominal pain, bloating, or irregular bowel movements (diarrhea and/or constipation)
Your immune system usually resolves most infections successfully on its own. However, several environmental and lifestyle factors can suppress the immune system. First, stress is a huge factor; it strongly suppresses your body’s immune function. Second, environmental chemicals often get in the way of proper immunity.
A chronic infection can be really tricky to deal with. We may feel better, only to feel worse again later. Symptom improvement can be misleading.
Lots of people out there are walking around with chronic infections, whether they’re symptomatic or “silent” (without symptoms). Consequently, I tend to check for some of the “major players” (the types of :
- Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Lyme Disease and other spirochetes
- Norovirus and other viruses
- Candida and other fungi
- Staph, Strep, and other bacteria
- Entamoeba, Giardia, and other parasites
- Bacteria associated with stealthy dental abscesses/infections
- Overgrowths of “good” bacteria (!)
Dr. Sweeney has extensive knowledge of chronic infections! Call today at (210) 340-2150.
…Or is it an autoimmune disease?
Alternatively, the problem could involve an autoimmune flare-up, with more generalized symptoms. Unknown/undiagnosed autoimmune disorders are an even bigger issue, comparatively speaking. Like chronic infections, scores of people have autoimmune diseases without even suspecting it!
It’s important to realize that although autoimmune diseases come in multiple flavors, the culprit is ultimately the same: the immune system.
The following are just a few examples of autoimmune disorders:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Grave’s Disease
- Diabetes Type 1 (insulin-dependent diabetes)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hashimoto’s Disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Addison’s Disease (autoimmune-related adrenal fatigue)
- Lupus (SLE)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Vitiligo (loss of skin pigment in patches, where the skin turns white and won’t tan)
- Celiac Disease
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Hemolytic Anemia
- Pernicious Anemia
- And many more!
Of course, all of these disorders look quite different on the surface. However, they all have one thing in common: the immune system is attacking one’s own body. That’s the key element; the only difference is the part(s) of the body under immune system attack. Sooner or later, the immune system can select additional body parts as new targets.
Although there are obvious differences in symptoms among the above conditions, it’s also important to know that many different autoimmune diseases may share common symptoms.
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches and soreness
- Brain fog
- Difficulty regulating body temperature (getting too hot or too cold too easily)
- Low motivation
- Irregular heartbeat
- Recurrent skin rashes, welts, or hives
- Abdominal discomfort and bloating
- Constipation, diarrhea, or alternating between the two
Now, compare this last symptom list with the list of symptoms of chronic infections! Don’t they resemble each other? They have a lot in common.
I recommend watching this blog for additional posts on autoimmune disorders because there’s a lot more to say about them!
Dr. Sweeney has expert knowledge of autoimmune disorders! Call today: (210) 340-2150.
…Or, Could You Have Both (An Autoimmune Disorder and a Chronic Infection)??
Of course, you could indeed have a chronic infection, together with an autoimmune disorder. In fact, a serious infection or a period of severe stress (or both) could actually upset your immune system enough that it begins to turn on your body. Consequently, an autoimmune condition often develops. This phenomenon is much more common than most people think, and most conventional healthcare providers don’t think of it or check for it.
Moreover, this often becomes a vicious circle, where each malady perpetuates and worsens the other. For example, an infection could keep the immune system stimulated, which continues the autoimmune attack on the parts of the body involved. Additionally, the disrupted-immunity nature of the autoimmune disease could prevent the body from launching a proper defense against the infection.
“I was fine when it was warm; why do I feel so bad now?”
In light of the winter season and its holidays, I’m actually not very surprised. Certainly, though, it’s an unfortunate event. Since these events occur every year, it’s hard to escape their influence.
You may have felt fine during the warmer months, and you may have made no changes at all to your diet or daily routine since then. But for some reason, you feel icky these days. Coupled with this is confusion: you don’t know why. What gives?
In my clinical experience, I’ve noted that multiple factors come into play.
First, the holidays can be stressful. We spend extra physical energy involved in shopping, planning, cleaning, or traveling. We spend mental energy keeping track of to-do lists, Christmas wish-lists, and travel itineraries alongside our daily routines. Traffic is thicker and people tend to be more impatient. Stress impairs the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to chronic infection and autoimmune disruption.
Second, the weather is colder. This means that it takes more energy to stay warm in cold weather, which leaves less energy for regulating immune function. People also tend to spend more time indoors and in close proximity to each other; this makes it easier to catch other peoples’ bugs. Additionally, viruses tend to become more easily airborne at lower temperatures.
Third, the holidays are the most vulnerable time for temporarily abandoning healthy diets. Case in point – how many of us feel tempted (or actually give in) to “cheat” and overlook those cookies made with wheat flour, dairy, and eggs? Or, how many of us “behave” in terms of individual ingredients, but generally go overboard on the sugar or carbohydrates? As a consequence of our straying, extra sugar suppresses the immune system, and extra carbs feed certain types of gut bacteria in the intestinal tract that leave us feeling bloated and tired.
And last but not least, the days are shorter. It takes more energy to wake up at the same time during those dark mornings and stay awake longer into those dark evenings. Equally important (but much less known), the shortening of day-night length and timing can cause changes in various hormones, neurotransmitters, and cytokines.
Dr. Sweeney, DC, takes a whole-body integrative-health approach to chronic infection and autoimmune disorders, using the full, original Functional Medicine framework.
Working with Dr. Sweeney, you’ll learn:
- How to have the best of both worlds – preserving your health AND having fun – throughout the holidays
- When a “miracle superfood” could actually be the worst thing for you and the last thing you want!
- What exactly your individual immune system is doing – and how should it be balanced?
- Whether or not you have hidden bugs – bacteria, viruses, fungi, and/or parasites
- Does your body even have the proper nutrients for healthy immune function?
- How to coordinate your immune system so that it fights dangerous bugs without attacking yourself
- Stealthy, hidden chemicals in your environment that might be sabotaging your efforts to heal
- How the mind-body connection can help make or break your immune system–and your health
Dr. Sweeney’s Closing Words…
In closing, I fully realize that those who suffer from chronic infection and/or autoimmune disorders may find all of this information and the key elements of my healing approach (in the list immediately above) quite overwhelming.
If that’s the case, or if you’re not sure whether or not you can handle a comprehensive multi-modal healing path right now, then you are probably among those who need it most!
Yes, you could wait a few months or a year, but the truth is, the kinds of issues I’ve written about today DO NOT go away on their own, nor do they go away with a little bone broth or some immune-boosting herbs from the health food store. These issues are nearly impossible to self-treat or address incompletely.
The good news is, recovery is possible! The bad news is, it’s not simple or cheap, and insurance coverage hardly ever goes far enough.
It’s best to seek the help of a qualified, knowledgeable, licensed IFMCP professional to guide you on the quickest, highest-quality, and most cost-effective journey possible. Take the plunge now. You won’t regret it! Unlike many other offices, we WILL be keeping special office hours during the week between Christmas and New Year’s; simply call us at (210) 340-2150 today!
In Love and Light,
Dr. L. Sweeney, DC
“List of Autoimmune Diseases” ~ from AARDA