A major part of the pathophysiology of ME/CFS is the existence of immune dysfunction. Many patients can recall some sort of stressor event that sent them into a spiral of illness and systemic bodily dysfunction that can last for years –even decades. Most people, however, that become ill with Mononucleosis, go through periods of stress, are bitten by ticks, etc. recover fully.
This leads one to wonder “what makes certain people different in how their systems react to stressors?” Considering the available research data on the presence of immune dysfunction in ME/CFS patients, it then becomes pertinent to examine the possible precursors to such severe dysfunction.
In other words, What elements could lead to the immune system over or under reacting to stressors? I am going to focus my blog posts on the particular effect of the gut biome on overall health, with a sub-focus on the immune system. There are other factors influencing immune health, such as gender, hormones, etc…
These are valuable to study, but given my experience with digestive symptoms, the gut microbiome is an area of strong personal interest. I began experiencing problems with my digestive system in 2009, and I had some rapid weight loss due to a combination of insomnia plus several months of irritable bowel issues. In my adolescence, I had always been able to eat anything presented to me with no issues, and my diet wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. It included indulgences that most likely led to a low-grade gut disturbance.
I recovered from my hospital stay in 2009, but still had lingering digestive and intestinal issues, leading me to experiment with diet and to exclude dairy and attempt to minimize gluten (I am still working on that one). I was somewhat aware of the issue of gut dysbiosis, but never really studied it or addressed it in depth until I had some bizarre symptoms in 2014.
I was put on longer term antibiotics for the first time that year, and this opened my eyes to the implications of intestinal bacterial issues in a wide range of illness, including ME/CFS. I experimented with probiotics last year, and have been currently educating myself on the roles of bacteria in immune health, and potential ME/CFS treatments in that sector. I also realized that, given my previous intestinal/gut issues, that I may have “set the stage” for my illness/crash in 2014 by having a disturbed gut biome.
While there is, unfortunately, no way to retroactively test for gut dysfunction, it can be assumed that most digestive/intestinal issues do in fact have an element of dysbiosis
In all reality, truly genetic diseases are rare, and for those of us that deal with those issues, they usually have a childhood onset along with severe, sometimes life-threatening symptoms. On the other hand, certain genetic abnormalities can predispose us to illness, and so the importance of maintaining a healthy system to counteract genetic susceptibility is paramount.
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