Infections, bacterial infections, viral infections
Descriptions - If viruses or bacteria enter into the body they multiply and often cause damage. The body's first response is to increase the blood supply causing swelling and warmth and often the temperature rises to increase the effectiveness of the immune response and in some cases damage the invader. At the same time, the immune system (white blood cells, antibodies, complement) start multiplying and attack the invaders. In the pre antibiotic era, infections often took a long time to heal, sometimes the patient went through a temperature 'crisis' before starting to recover, some infections never went away and many others led to the death of the patient.
Antibiotics have not only helped in the treatment of bacterial infections, but also to treat bacterial overgrowth that often follows virus diseases.
Infections can occur anywhere in the body, and in some areas (brain, meningeal fluid, blood stream, eye) they are more serious than others, and also the type of bacteria of virus involved.
Virus infections -
viruses cannot live alone, they must be inside the host cells to survive. In there they take over part of the cell and make it multiply to create more virus particles which can infect more cells and so on (click here). Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and the body's immune system is our only defense. Some virus infections are mild, in most recovery is complete, but some can leave long term effects - glandular fever, polio etc. Some are much more severe and lethal (ebola, bird flu) and HIV which has the ability to change its immune appearance making treatment very difficult.
What doctors can do
Make a diagnosis - this is usually done on clinical assessment. We do have tests for viruses, but these take some time to return and the patient has usually recovered by the time they return.
Drugs - we do have a few drugs for specific virus infections - Acyclivir for herpes infections, Zidovudine for HIV, TamiFlu and Amantidine for flu (neither have been shown to reduce symptoms or complications) - but usually the treatment has changed little from grandma's day - "go to bed with a lemon drink and honey".
Some advise using paracetamol and aspirin for temperature and the symptoms, but these can have significant side effects and even toxic effects.
What you can do
- Isolate yourself - many virus diseases are infections and it is kinder to others to keep away until the infection time is over. No one will thank you for struggling to work with the flu and then infect them and their families.
- Rest - is very important, it allows the body to galvanize its defenses to attack the viruses. Hard physical activity during a virus illness can damage many of the body systems including the muscles and the heart.
Vitamin C - given in high doses, vitamin C can be very effective against viral diseases. There is a video on the topic on this site click here , and along with vitamin D this is probably the most effective antivirus treatment we have. Some suggest it be given intravenously to be effective, but high doses orally are probably just as good. By high dose we mean 5, 10, 20 grams two or 3 times daily. It is suggested to increase the dose until diarrhoea develops then reduce to the previous dose. It appears the body lets in as much vitamin C as it needs because most people would develop diarrhoea on these doses, but not when they have infections.
Vitamin D - we are only now realising the importance of vitamin D in many illnesses, and this is so with infections. It is suggested that people with infections take 5,000 to 8,000iu of vitamin D daily.
Others - a good multi makes sure the body has all the nutrients it needs to fight the infection,. fish oils may reduce the inflammation ( 1-2 grams daily), grape seed extract is also helpful in fighting infections. Other complementary treatments which may help include echinacea, garlic and ginger.
Bacterial infections -
While antibiotics have made a huge impact on the effects of bacterial infections, the emergence of resistant bacteria is a real worry and the drug industry has almost reached the end of the road as more and more resistant organisms appear.
What your doctor can do
Make a guess on the type of bacteria from the clinical appearance and location of the infection
Take swabs to grow the bacteria to identify them and also plate them with various antibiotics to see how sensitive they are.
Drugs - initially the doctor makes a best guess as to what antibiotic to use, usually a broad spectrum one to cover the possibilities, then when the bacteriological results return ( usually 2-3 days) change to the more selective one, best for that particular bug.
Genetics - soon labs will be able to look at the DNA of the bacteria and tell the type and also possible sensitivities and results will be available in hours instead of days.
What you can do
- Probiotics - if your doctor puts you on antibiotics, these can change the bacteria in the gut and get an overgrowth of bad bacteria causing diarrhoea which can sometimes become very severe (C difficile overgrowth). By continually replacing the good bacteria killed by the antibiotics with probiotics, this can be reduced.
- Vitamin C - given in high doses, vitamin C can be very effective against viral and bacterial diseases. Some suggest it be given intravenously to be effective, but high doses orally are probably just as good. By high dose we mean 5, 10, 20 grams two or 3 times daily. It is suggested to increase the dose until diarrhoea develops then reduce to the previous dose. It appears the body lets in as much vitamin C as it needs because most people would develop diarrhoea on these doses, but not with infections.
- Vitamin D - we are only now realising the importance of vitamin D in many illnesses, and this is so with infections. It is suggested that people with infections take 5,000 to 8,000iu of vitamin D daily.
- Others - a good multi makes sure the body has all the nutrients it needs to fight the infection,. fish oils may reduce the inflammation ( 1-2 grams daily), grape seed extract is also helpful in fighting infections. Other complementary treatments which may help include echinacea, garlic and ginger.
The Nutritional supplements I use and recommend to my patients
For my patients with infections viral and bacterial, I recommend -
USANA - Cellsentials *, Biomega, Vitamin D, Proflavanol C, Probiotics, click here for more information
Other therapiesThere are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at. They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help. They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner. My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.
Nutritional supplementsI believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.