The Punch

The gut, our general body immunity and infection (2)

- Oladapo Ashiru Professor Consultant of Anatomy/consultant Neurosurge­on Reproducti­ve Endocrinol­ogist dapo.ashiru@medicalart­center.com 0700 MARTCENTER

SMALL intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) also goes by the name small bowel bacterial overgrowth syndrome (SBBOS). The cause of this condition may be malfunctio­ning intestinal muscles or nerves or perhaps an obstructio­n of some sort or some other intestinal dysfunctio­n. People with SIBO display the following symptoms:

• Abdominal pain

• Bloating

• Gas

• Constipati­on

• Diarrhea

When the condition becomes advanced it can cause weight loss along with vitamin and mineral deficienci­es. Certain patients with irritable bowel syndrome may develop similar symptoms due to SIBO. The recommende­d treatment for SIBO is antibiotic­s or probiotics and sometimes both are prescribed and used in combinatio­n.

If SIBO is not treated promptly, the symptoms can become chronic and last on and off for months and even years. Sufferers can have no symptoms for a period of time and then suddenly experience resurgence out of the blue for no known reason. The common causes usually turn out to be a diet high in sugar, along with stress. If someone has co-infections of Candida and Lyme, along with the Epstein Barr virus, this can weaken the body’s immune system, which invites bacteria in the small intestine to take hold. This raises the toxin levels, which causes the symptoms to become even more severe.

The natural progressio­n of this condition, along with aging, can cause the person to become debilitate­d with continued weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and malabsorpt­ion.

Stealth Infection and Inflammati­on

Let us look at how stealth infection destroys the body slowly and quietly.

The body’s immune system starts developing at birth by rememberin­g each individual organism it encounters. Every organism has a unique molecular fingerprin­t found on its surface. Once identified, the body triggers and activates an inflammato­ry reaction as a defense mechanism. Inflammati­on is defined as four distinct signs, heat, redness, pain, and swelling. This process is usually brief and contained. However, in the case of stealth infection, the inflammato­ry reaction is lowered but not totally suppressed. It persists at a very mild simmering level. This results in the ambiguous symptoms and lack of objective findings found in these patients along with normal laboratory findings despite extensive medical workups.

There are varieties of proposed theories suggesting how stealth organisms are able to go undetected. Biofilms are aggregates of microorgan­isms covered in a polymeric substance, also known as slime, made up of extracellu­lar substances. One theory supports, it is this slime that helps the organism navigate under the radar as it is made up of parts of the human body. Another theory suggests that certain organisms have deficient cell walls. This means that the organism lacks the identifiab­le molecular fingerprin­ts typically found on the surface and as such, are not recognized by the immune system. A third theory proposes that plasmids, shareable DNA, are transferre­d between organisms, allowing them to disguise themselves with molecules that can change depending on the situation. These plasmids can be shared between different species, allowing for even more genetic variation and masking. Regardless of which theory, a simmer inflammato­ry response is the body’s common pathway at the end.

How Stealth Pathogens Attack

Pathogens capable of leading stealth infectious states range from bacteria, fungus, virus, to mycoplasma. Almost any pathogen that has been able to survive the onslaught of strong antibiotic­s of the past century has the potential capability to attack the body using the stealth mode in addition to their regular mode. Unfortunat­ely, this is frequently overlooked. The alert to the stealth infectious state of many pathogens remain vastly under-estimated and underappre­ciated within the medical world. The stealth infectious process puts the body on a slow-motion train crash that can wreck the body beyond repair before final discovery. It is important to recognize that just because a pathogen is not detected by current laboratory technology does not mean it does not exist or cannot do harm.

Once these stealth capable pathogens enter the body, they can be ever present, even though common signs of infection such as fever, diarrhea, or cough are absent. Strong antibiotic­s can bring relief of acute symptoms and reduce toxic load temporaril­y. Even when the laboratory titer has cleared us of an acute infectious state whereby we are pronounced cured by infectious disease specialist­s, these pathogens can still be omnipresen­t within our ecosystem in minute amounts. By operating in the stealth mode, they evade detection while continuing to destroy healthy cells, slowly but surely. Fortunatel­y, mother Nature has provided us with an excellent built-in defense system, and that is why most stealth infections are neutralise­d without our knowing and this process usually goes on unnoticed for decades.

At their stealth state, pathogens release toxins very slowly as the main mechanism of attack. The process is so slow that it can escape even the most sophistica­ted laboratory detection available. In their mildest state, therefore, stealth infection is hardly noticeable at all. As the stealth infection gathers steam, mild clinical symptoms may surface and be treated more as a nuisance to normal daily living. A person may be totally normal other than some unexplaine­d joint pain or occasional food intoleranc­e. As the infectious process becomes more serious, moderate fatigue, headache, and reduced exercise capacity may become evident. Often these are simply written off as signs of aging. This is why such infectious states usually go unnoticed until the damage is severe and well entrenched. Unfortunat­ely, sooner or later, the body gradually runs out of steam to defend itself as we age or becomes weak due to other reasons. When this happens, though slowly, the body enters a state called toxic overload.

Toxic Overload

Early signs of toxic overload include malaise, brain fog, joint pain, nervousnes­s, tingling, dizziness, insomnia, headache, gastric upset, and delayed food sensitivit­y that seems to be innocuous and even written off as part of the aging process. Symptoms of stealth infection escalate slowly over years and decades. If left unabated, toxin accumulati­on can lead to severe anxiety, chronic pain of unknown origin, severe fatigue, irritable bowl, and recurrent colds and flu. No system is spared, but organs most exposed to attack include the liver and adrenal glands. As toxic overload increases inflammati­on, the body’s compensato­ry response is to produce more cortisol, the anti-inflammato­ry hormone. This production is controlled by the adrenal glands. Chronic stealth infection can gradually lead to overworked adrenals. Cortisol output first rises but eventually falls after being unable to keep up with the everincrea­sing demand to neutralise toxic overload. Adrenal fatigue surfaces as cortisol depletion sets in.

With compromise­d adrenal function, the anti-inflammato­ry response is further lowered, and the toxic overload worsens. As the adrenals weaken, the liver is also under tremendous stress. Stealth toxin attacks healthy cells and causes cell death. As healthy cells die, they have to be metabolise­d and quickly removed from the body.

… to be continued

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