Treating Chronic Infections

Chronic infections are usually caused by three main factors:

1) Poor immune function.

2) Disrupted microflora that reside on the surfaces of the body where the infection is occurring. These surfaces tend to be what we call, mucus membranes. The mucus membranes of the body are the skin, reproductive tract, urinary tract, respiratory tract and digestive tract. They are surfaces that are exposed to the outside world. These surfaces contain specific bacteria that are part of our immune system. They help prevent infections on mucus membranes, as well as overgrowth of bad bacteria, fungi or parasites that may be residing naturally on these mucus membranes as part of our commensal flora.

3) An acquired infection from an external, environmental source (e.g. food or another human). a lowered immune function can increase the risk of contraction. 

Most chronic infections are treated using topical and oral anti-microbials. But as we are learning with some of these infections, this may not be the best way to go.

This is because these treatments often kill the good bacteria that reside on our mucus membranes and therefore cause imbalances. This then increases our susceptibility to further infections on our mucus membranes because there is decreased amounts of good bacteria to protect us.

Even if these anti-microbials are necessary for eradicating infections that may have been acquired from our environment (e.g. while travelling), it is vitally important that we supplement with strain specific pro and prebiotics, to make sure these treatments don’t wipe out all of our beneficial flora on our mucus membranes, which could lead to further problems down the track, such as increased susceptibility to other infections.

A good example to highlight this is when females take anti-biotics, they often develop thrush. This is because the anti-biotics kill the good bacteria that prevent candida from overgrowing. Candida is a natural part of the vaginal flora and it only becomes an issue when there are lowered amounts of good bacteria to keep it in check. 

Another good example is chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is usually due to an overgrowth of “bad bacteria” in the sinuses, which end up increasing inflammation and therefore causing uncomfortable symptoms. When antibiotics are given for this condition, it makes the situation worse because antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria, they also kill the good bacteria, which keep the bad in check. So while you may get temporary reduction in symptoms, they will likely come back as there is still an imbalance in the flora of the sinuses that has not been corrected. People often get prescription after prescription of antibiotics with no resolve.

Furthermore, based on all of this, a lot these microbes that we class as “infections” are not really infections so to speak. They are usually due to the overgrowth of commensal bacteria or fungi on mucus membranes. This is due to lowered amounts of the good bacteria that keep them in check. Even acquired parasitic of fungal infections in our gut can disrupt our normal bacteria composition, so it is vital we help to restore the balance while eradicating these microbes. This will protect us from digestive issues that result from gut flora imbalances.

Our diet and lifestyle have a profound effect on the functioning of our immune system and the health/balance of our microflora on all of our mucus membranes.

If you suffer from chronic thrush call Oak Health or book and appointment online today to find out how evidence-based, practical and sustainable diet and lifestyle changes, as well as herbal and nutritional supplementation, can help increase immunity, decrease overgrowth and restore microflora balance on your mucus membranes.

If you do require pharmaceutical treatments, find out how you can support your microflora alongside these treatments in order to increase their efficacy and decrease their side effects.