Infections - who gets them and why

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People who live within correct evolutionary principles should not get infections. This includes the common cold. Children living within correct evolutionary principles should get exposed to local bugs and have a minor illness. These confer immunity on them for life.

However, due to increasing world population and air travel we are seeing more new bugs than ever before. It is this that makes the prospect of agressive viral pandemics so daunting.

If you look at life from the point of view of a bug (bacteria, virus, parasite, worm etc) what better place to live than a human body? It is warm and comfortable with a ready supply of nutrients. But in living there the bugs damage tissues and take nutrients from the body which does its best to kick them out. Bacteria are constantly present throughout the body - in the lungs, the gut, the urinary tract and in the blood, and the immune system is constantly battling to keep the numbers down. Please see Chronic infection – Life is an arms race – how to tackle with natural remedies. The key is to keep the body as healthy as possible so the correct immune system programming takes place. Please see Reprogramming the Immune System – where conventional and complementary medicine can come together.

How to prevent infections

  • Childhood programming
A child's immune system is much better at dealing with infections than an adult's and so the more exposure, the better. Who else remembers those chicken pox parties? They were a good idea!
The Hygiene Hypothesis tells us that for the immune system to be correctly programmed it needs exposure to bugs! You can be too clean! This usually happens with the first born child - and what we know is that the first born is more likely to suffer from allergies compared to subsequent children. Please see Hygiene hypothesis - good bugs and bad bugs
  • Poor physical defences
In order to get a foothold in the body, bugs need to stick to a surface somewhere out of the way of a good blood supply. Obvious sticking points are in catarrh, scar tissue, stagnating urine in the bladder, a place of turbulent blood flow, a patch of broken skin, injured tissue like a crush injury and so on. Once a bug can stick, it can proliferate. This is the difference between flowing water in a stream (good to drink) and stagnating water in a pond (bug overgrowth). Do not allow bugs to make themselves comfortable in your body - nurture your immune system. Read about how to do that in Swine flu
  • Do not get cold
Temperature is an important defence. Bugs are temperature sensitive and only thrive in certain temperatures. One of the reasons we run a temperature during infection is because this kills bugs. The body has to strike a balance between not being too hot (which burns up energy - primitive man may not be able to eat enough to keep a high temperature going) and not being too cold (which allows bugs to get in).
If the temperature falls because we don't wrap up enough (usually because of fashion demands!), or we don't exercise, or we are dieting to lose weight, or we have an underactive thyroid, or we are too thin, then we put ourselves at risk of infection. See Thyroid - the correct prescribing of thyroid hormones
In CFS, when there is mitochondrial failure, the "engines" of our body run slow and so CFS sufferers tend to have low normal or below normal temperature and feel cold. This lowers their defences against infections. See CFS - The Central Cause: Mitochondrial Failure
  • Probiotics
Essential for protection against infections. See Probiotics
  • Do not be poisoned by chemicals
Most chemicals are toxic to the immune system. Do a good chemical cleanup - see Chemical Poisoning and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) - how to reduce your daily exposures
  • Poor mental defences
I think of the immune system as that part of the brain which is subconscious but throughout the body, not just contained within the skull and spinal cord. The immune system is intelligent, communicative and responsive. Anything which depresses the brain will depress the immune system. The obvious things are lack of sleep, depression and loss of the will to live. See Brain fog - poor memory, difficulty thinking clearly etc
  • Avoid the avoidable
Many nasty infections are sexually transmitted - HIV, hepatitis, herpes, chlamydia. Choose your sexual partners carefully! Choose your foreign travel with intelligence! Hospitals accumulate drug resistant bugs!

Also see Viral infections - avoid them and treat them aggressively

The future

We may think that modern man has got rid of the infections problem since the advent of antibiotics. But Nature will fight back. We are already seeing new bugs thriving against which we have no chemical defences - HIV and multi-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are obvious examples. There are many nasty bugs being made in laboratories for use in biological warfare which could easily escape. New strains of bugs are evolving all the time - who is going to survive an AIDS like virus spread by air droplets as 'flu is? Who will be happy to hear about a new virus spread by droplet infection which causes cancer? What about the possibility of a prion spread by droplet infection causing a new dementia? A healthy body and immune system will be necessary to fight these potential horrors.

So to keep infections away...

When medical treatment is required

If the normal defences are broken down, then medical treatment is required. For example:

  • Skin cuts - the skin is a major barrier against infection. Get any skin cuts as clean as reasonably possible. Keep them covered but dry. Puncture wounds from cat and dog bites often get infected and antibiotics may be required if inflammation appears after a few days. Always check tetanus status with puncture wounds.
  • If you are already ill as a result of some other illness your immune system may not function well. The obvious example is HIV/AIDS! But heart disease, chronic bronchitis from smoking, known conditions such as bronchiectesis or cystic fibrosis needs treating early. Patients on high dose steroids or chemotherapy are immunosuppressed with drugs.
  • If there is pre-existing damage. Any damage to the body heals with scar tissue. Scarring means the anatomy is not normal and the blood supply is not as good. Therefore this is an ideal site for infections to take a hold. Any stagnation in the body allows bacteria to proliferate. So if the body becomes run down for whatever reason, this gives a chance for infection to take over. In these cases antibiotics should be given early at the first sign of infection (or even prophylactically). Obvious examples include:
  • infective endocarditis (damage to heart valves from rheumatic fever, congenital problems) means that bacteria release from, for example, dental work may get stuck on a valve to cause infection.
  • recurrent urinary tract infections
  • recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease
  • prostatitis
  • bronchiectesis
  • diverticulitis
  • if the symptoms are very severe
  • if symptoms persist or get worse (i.e. the immune system is not doing its job)

With these patients who know their symptoms and their favourite bugs I give them a supply of antibiotics to keep at home and to use them at the first sign of any problem.

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