Have you been feeling like crap, but doctors cannot tell you what is wrong?
Have you been to different specialists only to be told that you have some idiopathic disease? Which means they don't know what is causing your symptoms?
Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a rheumatological disease with no one cause and no proven effective treatment, and IBS/Chrohn's are gastrointestinal diseases, with no know causes and no proven effective treatments. What if these diseases were caused by a virus? An acute viral infection that has evolved to chronic disease? It's not only possible, it's highly likely.
OVERVIEW: What are Enteroviruses?
Enteroviruses are the largest family of viruses known to man, with over 90 strains. Enterovirus (EV) is a "collective name" for 5 subgroups of Picornaviruses. Pico means "tiny sized" RNA viruses (made of Ribonucleic Acid). Even though they are small under a microscope,
Enteroviruses include Polio viruses, Echo viruses, and Coxsackie viruses. They even include random numbered Enteroviruses like EV-68 and EV-71, which can be life-threatening.
There are no approved antiviral drugs for the treatment of EV infections yet, but several drug companies are working on sequencing it and developing antivirals for it. EV infections are serious respiratory infections which causes high amounts of suffering. An economic toll exists as well, since patients often miss work and/or visit the doctor frequently. Researchers from around the world bring hope to millions of suffering patients by identifying potential antiviral compounds that could one day, provide safe and effective treatment options.
Enteroviruses are the leading cause of acute gastrointestinal infections in the U.S. each year, and they are the 2nd most common cause of acute respiratory infections in the U.S. annually.
Rhinoviruses (common cold) are the #1 cause of respiratory infection, but because Rhinoviruses and Enteroviruses are both picornaviruses, physicians have trouble distinguishing the two. Both cause runny noses, sore throats, body aches, fever, chills, and headaches. Rhinoviruses cannot evolve to chronic disease, but Enteroviruses can.
Enteroviruses are primarily transmitted through the respiratory tract and/or the gastrointestinal tract. This is how they ENTER our bodies, we inhale them, or we swallow them.
Enteroviruses can also be transmitted through the eye. Acute conjunctivitis is Coxsackie A-24 Virus.
Most EV infections are acute, and short-lived like the flu (influenza), and most people recover quickly. But under conditions of immune suppression, or simply being infected with more than one strain at a time, can possibly result in chronic infection. Chronic infection is illness lasting 6 months or more.
The complexity and magnitude of more than 90 EV strains can be overwhelming, intimidating, and discouraging for many doctors. Since the antibody blood tests are not included in the "standard" panel of blood tests, doctors are not likely to order them, or know about them.
This ultimately leads to mistreatment of the patient because it's easier to:
1. Write a prescription for an antibiotic or steroid
2. Provide a "psychological" explanation, rather than send blood to the microbiology department.
The most common way that patients become chronically infected with Enteroviruses, is when they swallow sputum that is coughed up from the lungs, or they eat contaminated food. Once swallowed, EV can thrive in the acidic environment of our stomachs (replicate).
When coughing with an EV infection, Live enterovirus can shed from the lungs for more than 3 months before patients develop symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, acid reflux, or dyspepsia. The more severe the symptoms, the higher the viral load.
If Enteroviruses are not stopped and controlled by the immune system in the ENTERO-tract, or during the acute phase, then the infection can eventually spread to other organs. You can inhale one strain and ingest another, making it complicated for the immune system to respond appropriately.
In Sweden, 24 children with Crohn's disease were tested for the presence of EV in their GI tracts. The 2013 Swedish study showed that 100% of children with Crohn's disease, tested positive for EV in the gastrointestinal tract. All 24 children with mild to severe Crohn's had EV infections.
In California, Dr. John Chia demonstrated that 82% of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome had evidence of a persistent (chronic) EV infection. Their stomachs contained both Enterovirus RNA, as well as enterovirus protein, which demonstrates replicating virus.
Functional Dyspepsia remains one of the most elusive GI disorders. In this study, Dyspepsia patients with or without Chronic Fatique Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis were evaluated, and 63% of them had double stranded EV RNA in their stomach biopsies, which not only supported the immunoperoxide staining method, but also offered a possible mechanism of viral persistence.
Patients at high risk of chronic EV infections would be those exposed to frequent colds, those that eat contaminated food and/or water, and those who have compromised immune systems.
High risk patients: frequent airplane travelers, medical professionals, and being around children. Acute EV infections are much more prevalent among young children, and Chronic EV is more prevalent among women.
Other high risks may be patients who ingest sushi or shellfish, or simply live in a community that has a contaminated water sources. EV does not die from chemicals added to the water source.
Participation in swimming pool sports is also a high risk, since even the most pristine pools can still have live Enteroviruses in them. Older children should not be sharing a pool with younger children during an EV outbreak.
Patients can try to stop the acute EV infection when it's in the upper respiratory tract (nose, sinuses), before it spreads to the lower respiratory tract (the lungs). Once in the lungs, EV can spread to the upper GI tract (stomach) and lower GI tract (colon and rectum).
Chronic EV infections can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on how the patient contracted the virus, and how the immune system responded. Symptoms can become worse after physical exertion or stress.
Since there is no antiviral approved for EV, rest and boosting the body's immune system will be vital. Patients must also manage other viral infections, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. General pre-cancer screening will be important for EV patients too.
Many physicians don't see the need to screen patients for Enteroviruses, but if more patients were properly diagnosed with it, awareness would increase.
2nd step: Undergo an endoscopy with a Gastroenterologist to have tissue collected.
Enteroviruses like to replicate in the parietal cells of your stomach, so that is where the presence of EV protein and EV RNA can be found. If both are found, then you can assume that the virus is replicating. To have samples tested, and for specific instructions, click here.
Proper rest can improve a patient's immune function, especially REM sleep.
Diet and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, can help improve a patient's immune function, reduce the symptoms, and improve overall health and well being.
Eliminating and/or reducing stress can also help strengthen the body's immune response.
Medications that can suppress your immune system, should be avoided.
Since Enteroviruses thrive and replicate in the acidic environment of our stomachs, patients can take acid blockers, and/or switch to alkaline water to try and control viral replication.
The medical and scientific community are slow to research Enteroviruses, but if more patients got diagnosed, then there may be more motivation from pharmaceutical companies to develop a safe and effective antiviral treatment. Their motivation should be focused on patients' needs, not market share.
EV infections are: a high unmet medical need, can be life threatening, and can cause immense amounts of human suffering, not to mention a higher risk for developing cancer.
Knowledge is empowering, please get tested and rule out an Enterovirus infection.
You can improve your health and accelerate your recovery.