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MOLD ILLNESS IN CENTRAL TEXAS

Devastating Symptoms due to Mold Toxin (Mycotoxin) exposure is Going Undiagnosed Often

In my functional clinical practice, Texas Integrative Medicine, one of the most common problems I see is chronic, complex illness from the presence of mold toxins in the body.  I usually see patients who come in with a group of unexplained symptoms and the cause is unknown.  In other cases a person knows that they are being exposed to bad mold and have symptoms, but don’t know what to do about it.

What are the Symptoms of Toxicity Due to Mold Toxin Exposure?

Some of the symptoms of mold toxin/mycotoxin toxicity are caused by the direct toxic effects on our cells and sub-cellular organelles (especially mitochondria).  Probably even more symptoms are caused by immune self-injury!  Let me explain.  When our body’s immune system encounters non-self, such as a mycotoxin molecule, it is programmed to respond with what is called the immune response, the purpose of which is to neutralize or remove the non-self (think germ invader or germ toxin).   Unfortunately in many cases our own cells and tissues can be injured by the immune response in a process of immune self-injury or “autoimmunity“.  Many of the symptoms that patients encounter with mycotoxin exposure are immune self-injury or immune inflammation symptoms.  Ok, what are they?  Almost always severe fatigue and intolerance to exercise or exertion is a hallmark of mold illness.  Symptoms involving the nervous system are almost always present.  These symptoms are from effects on the Central Nervous System as well as the Peripheral Nervous System (all the many nerves outside the brain).  Brain Fog is a term my patients often use to describe the brain effects of mold toxicity.  This term means that they experience loss of focus, loss of train of thought, difficulty with word finding, difficulty with problem solving, memory loss, and even confusion.  In addition to brain fog most patients also experience significant mood alterations.  They experience a sense of anxiety, emotionality, excessive fear or worry, depression, sense of despair, and often the inability to get restful sleep.  Symptoms of peripheral nervous system involvement include many symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and pain.  This is often localized to one area or side of the body and often migrates and comes and goes.  Digestive Disorder symptoms are exceedingly common.  When mold toxins on mold spores are inhaled into the nose, they stick to the nasal mucous and later are usually swallowed.  Some mold toxins are actually on the food we eat and are consumed.  Effects of mycotoxins in the Gastro-Intestinal tract include acid reflux/heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.  Pulmonary manifestations include shortness of breath and cough.  The toxic effects of molds also can reek havoc on our hormone-producing glands leading to a wide array of hormone imbalances and deficiencies. Immune self-injury of the muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and tendons often causes severe aches, pains and stiffness.

Molds can sometimes be identified using mold culture plates purchased in the home store.

Molds can sometimes be identified using mold culture plates purchased in the home store.

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is Credited with the Introduction of Mold Illness to the General Public

In  1996, Dr. Shoemaker was practicing Family Practice in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.  Some of his long-time patients were coming to him with the symptom picture that I described above.  He had heard about a toxin-producing algae-like germ called Pfiesteria that occured in algae-blooms in the bay.  One of his patients came in with severe diarrhea.  He decided to treat her diarrhea with cholestyramine, an old medicine used to lower cholesterol by binding it in the intestine, which was one of his favorite diarrhea treatments.  To his surprise and pleasure, the patient reported that within a few days her diarrhea was gone along with her memory loss, headache and cough.  He later learned that similar toxins could be produced by many indoor molds and lead to a similar clinical picture.  Over the years Dr. Shoemaker worked out many of the mechanisms that resulted in patient’s symptoms and he called the disease process Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS based largely on the fact that most of the symptoms were the result of inflammation due to the immune system’s response to the mycotoxins.

Later Dr. Shoemaker worked out a complex protocol and actually formed a training program (subject to tuition costs of course) to “certify” practitioners in his Shoemaker Protocol.  He has published several books on CIRS including Mold Warriors: Fighting America’s Hidden Health Threat (April 2005) and Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings (December 2010).  He also maintains a very informative website about the illness- www.survivingmold.com.

Mold Illness Symptoms Closely Mimic Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Related to the Effects of Stealth Infection and the Two Disorders Often Coexist in the Same Patient

It has been my experience in working with patients with the symptoms of Mold Illness that the symptoms seen from a variety of diseases associated with infection from a variety of Vector-Borne diseases are much the same.

Lyme Disease which is a disease reaching epidemic proportions in the United States is one such disease that overlaps the symptoms of mold illness.  The germ Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete which does occur in Texas and in much of the United States is just one stealth infection that may look like mold illness.  Even though the principles of treatment of each disease is different although some of the approaches to treatment overlap.

Stealth Infections including Lyme Disease can mimic Mold Toxin Illness

Stealth Infections including Lyme Disease can mimic Mold Toxin Illness

Symptoms of Illness Differ Among People with Mold Illness and Lyme as a Result of Differences in Sensitivity and Patterns of Immune Response

In my practice I am amazed by the differences that I see among individuals that are shown to have mold toxins and stealth germs in their bodies.  It appears that some people are completely without any symptoms even though they harbor mold toxins/mycotoxins and stealth germs like the “Lyme germ” in their bodies.  I have found that it is very important to individualize the treatment of these diseases.  The individual’s susceptibility to manifest symptoms from the various toxins is what I call BioTerrain.  These are the various factors of genetics and epigenetics which is what causes one person to be a “Canary in the Coal Mine” while another person with essentially the same set of mold toxins and stealth infection toxins is like a “Cast Iron Skillet” and may be perfectly well.

To successfully resolve symptoms, I have found that rule #1 is to identify and eliminate ongoing exposure to the toxins causing the problem.  This may require inspecting for mold-toxin causing molds in the indoor environment.  This may include testing for the presence of mold toxins and stealth infections in the body.  Often tests to understand the BioTerrain are helpful in order to modify the individual’s susceptibility to symptoms and inflammation.  Finally the goal of treatment is to assist in the elimination or reduction of toxins, mycotoxins and harmful stealth germs such as the “Lyme Borrelia” from the body.  There are quite a few tools that are used to accomplish this and I have found that these tools must be individualized from patient to patient.  One size definitly does not fit all.

I would be privileged to assist anyone who suspects that they are suffering from the effects of mycotoxins and other biotoxins and has not found the answers that they are looking for.  I am accepting new patients.  Please call 512-420-9300 if you wish to be seen by me in consultation.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-420-9300  

ELECTROSMOG – SHOULD YOU CARE?

The Many Conveniences of the 21st Century Digital Age May Come with a Price

Don’t get me wrong.  As a “technology nerd” I don’t know of too many people who have more of a love of things electronic than I do.  I am what people call an “early adopter” when it comes to the latest digital gadget, whether it be for enjoying audio and video, accessing the internet, or achieving an endless list of amazing things that this technology can do.  Indeed when I look back on the changes of the last 50 or so years, my life today in many respects bears little resemblance to my life of yesteryear.  Recently, though, I have begun to consider that there may be a downside to all this new technology.

Microwave and cellular towers like these increasingly fill the landscape.

Microwave and cellular towers like these increasingly fill the landscape.

I am not alone in this consideration.  The evidence of this is mounting rapidly.

Magda Havas, PhD

Associate Professor, Environment & Resource Studies, Trent University, Canada.
Expert in radiofrequency radiation, electromagnetic fields, dirty electricity and ground current.

“Radio frequency radiation and other forms of electromagnetic pollution are harmful at orders of magnitude well below existing guidelines. Science is one of the tools society uses to decide health policy. In the case of telecommunications equipment, such as cell phones, wireless networks, cell phone antennas, PDAs, and portable phones, the science is being ignored. Current guidelines urgently need to be re-examined by government and reduced to reflect the state of the science. There is an emerging public health crisis at hand and time is of the essence.”

I practice medicine that deals with chronic, complex illness, and my approach involves investigation for the root causes of illness with the goal of eliminating the root causes and reversing the harmful health effects.  Over the years that I have treated folks, I have encountered a steady increase in the incidence of many diseases associated with inflammation.  Others are seeing the same phenomenon.  In fact these diseases are sometimes called the epidemics of the 21st Century.  They include diseases like asthma, autoimmune disease, autism, arthritis, sleep disorder, obesity, infertility,  cancer and a number of others that are thought by many scientists and healthcare providers to be associated with the progressive environmental changes that our world is experiencing since the beginning of the industrial age (especially the past 50 years since the “digital revolution” began).

What is ElectroSmog anyway?  It is a catchy term that has been coined to represent a number of different sources of electromagnetic fields (EMF), electromagnetic radiation (EMR), magnetic fields associated with high voltage power lines, microwaves (RF) associated with radio/TV antenas and cellphone towers, electrical transients and harmonics (dirty electricity) in our home electric wiring, direct current electric and magnetic fields (DC), ground current, and extremely low frequency EMF (ELF EMF).  There is no disputing the fact that the annual rate of introduction of these energies into our local environment has been exponential and continues to grow at an astounding rate.

When one considers the rate of growth per 1,000 population of these diseases of the 21st Century, there are any number of different candidate causes that have been incriminated to play a role.  Global temperature change, increases in chemical pollution of the air, food, and water (even our oceans), progressive destruction of undeveloped lands (urban sprawl), world-wide global travel with attendant transmission of communicable diseases, emerging antibiotic resistance of disease-causing germs (so-called superbugs), nuclear emissions, and electrosmog.  Probably all of these factors play a role to a greater or lesser degree.  Electrosmog, more than the others, seems to most closely match the rate of growth in terms of the amount of exposure compared with the increased amount of disease per capita.

Samuel Milham MD, MPH

Medical epidemiologist in occupational epidemiology.
First scientist to report increased leukemia and other cancers in electrical workers and to demonstrate that the childhood age peak in leukemia emerged in conjunction with the spread of residential electrification.

“Very recently, new research is suggesting that nearly all the human plagues which emerged in the twentieth century, like common acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, female breast cancer, malignant melanoma and asthma, can be tied to some facet of our use of electricity.  There is an urgent need for governments and individuals to take steps to minimize community and personal EMF exposures.”

High-voltage power transmission lines increasingly criss-cross our living spaces.

High-voltage power transmission lines increasingly criss-cross our living spaces.

Can we have both the modern technological advances of the 21st Century and still be protected from ElectroSmog?  The answer is a definite YES.  In fact other countries are way ahead of the United States in terms of creating standards and regulations intended to allow technological progress while still protecting the health of the population. See the Austrian Medical Association listed below.

So what can a person do?  It all starts with a healthy awareness and appreciation for the problem.  The internet abounds with a wealth of useful information for those that seek it.  Evidence is mounting that the most cost-effective way to reduce adverse health effects is avoidance of exposure.  There are any number of service businesses coming in to existence whose mission is to measure the home or work environment for levels of potentially harmful exposure and to assist with measures to reduce or eliminate these exposures.  Followup testing can verify the effectiveness of these interventions.   Changes in symptoms may be rapidly appreciated. There are also a number of easy and low cost measures that one can take to reduce exposure.  Since the issue of ElectroSmog is somewhat technical, bringing in an environmental consultant can be well worth the limited expense to avoid unnecessary expense, to avoid taking unnecessary measures, and to maximize the beneficial outcome.

Here are a few solutions that are easy to do and yet can significantly reduce ElectroSmog exposure:

  1. Use cell phones as little as possible. Studies have demonstrated that biological effects occur when holding the device against your ear 30 seconds into making or receiving a call. Use your cell phone to take messages and use a corded land line to make calls.
  2. Cell phones emit radiation even when you are not making a call. For this reason wireless communication devices should not be carried against your body. Cell phones kept in pockets should be turned off.
  3. Do not let young children use cell phones at all, or restrict their use to emergency situations only.
  4. All microwave ovens leak RF radiation when they are in use. Replace microwave ovens with safer appliances such as a toaster or a conventional electric or gas range and oven.
  5. Do not let a child use a cordless home phone. These can be replaced with a hard wired corded land line phone.
  6. Replace all DECT / digital cordless phones, which emit high levels of RF radiation even when idle, with corded land line telephones. Corded land line telephones have low EMF emissions and are a good alternative.
  7. Avoid cell phone use in a car unless you are using a roof mounted external antenna. Without this, the RF signals from your cell phone will intensify because of multiple reflections from the metal surfaces of the car. Remember that cell phones emit RF radiation even when they are not being used to make a call.
  8. Many children’s games use wireless technology. Disable the wireless component if possible and replace it with a cable. Verify that RF emissions have ceased with an RF detector or RF Meter.
  9. When using a notebook/laptop or a computer use a hard wired network connection. Settings to disable the wireless connection are found in Network Settings on a PC or AirPort on a Mac. Once disabled, verify that the device has ceased emitting RF by using a RF detector or RF Meter.
  10. Replace wireless internet routers with hard wired units. Some wireless router models allow the user to shut off the wireless component and convert it to a hard wired unit. To ensure that RF emissions have ceased test with a RF detector or RF meter.
  11. Do not use compact fluorescent or any low voltage lighting technologies. CFLs emit high levels of electric fields and magnetic fields. Do not use compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or any low voltage lighting technologies. CFLs emit high levels of electric and magnetic fields. Incandescent light bulbs or 120 volt halogen bulbs are a safer alternative.
  12. DVDs / VCRs, electric clock radios/alarm clocks, stereo systems, heating pads, electric blankets, and water beds must be unplugged to cease electric and magnetic field emissions. During sleeping hours, remove or unplug electronic devices located in the sleeping areas.

We all need to do our part to protect ourselves and our families from the adverse health effects of environmental degradation associated with the interaction of “human progress” with our world.  This is the only world we have at least for the foreseeable future!

References:

Electromagnetic absorption in the human head and neck for mobile telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz
Gandhi, O.P. Lazzi, G. and Furse, C.M.1996
Source: IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Volume: 44; Pages: 1884-1897

Magnetic field exposure and long-term survival among children with leukemia
Foliart, D.E. Pollock, B.H. Mezei, G. Iriye, R. Silva, J.M. Epi, K.L. Kheifets, L. Lind, M.P. Kavet, R. 2006
Source: British Journal of Cancer, 94 161-164

Extra low frequency electric and magnetic fields in the bedplace of children diagnosed with leukemia: a case control study
R.W Coghill; J Steward; A Phillips1996
Source: European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 5 (3) (153-158)

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 2016 Sep;46:183-7. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

Effects of dietary green tea polyphenol supplementation on the health of workers exposed to high-voltage power lines.Zhang Y1Zhang D1Zhu B1Zhang H1Sun Y1Sun C2.

Rev Environ Health 2016 Sep 1;31(3):363-97. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2016-0011.

EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses Belyaev IDean AEger HHubmann GJandrisovits RKern MKundi MMoshammer HLercher PMüller KOberfeld GOhnsorge PPelzmann P,Scheingraber CThill R.

Guideline of the Austrian Medical Association ( ) for the diagnosis and treatment of EMFrelated health problems and illnesses (EMF syndrome) Consensus paper of the Austrian Medical Association’s EMF Working Group ( AG-EMF) Adopted at the meeting of environmental medicine officers of the Regional Medical Association´s and the Austrian Medical Association on 3rd March 2012 in Vienna.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  He has a focus on the role that environmental stress and toxins play in the health of his patients.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-420-9300  

 

MOLD ILLNESS IN CENTRAL TEXAS

by Wally Taylor MD

In my integrative, functional and holistic practice of medicine in Austin, Texas, where I see people suffering from chronic complex illness that has not responded completely to prescription medicine, I frequently encounter folks who have a variety of symptoms from the exposure to mold toxins also known as mycotoxins.  This has been more common lately as the result of the extensive rains and flooding that have occurred in our area recently.  Mold illness is most often associated with indoor toxic mold exposure that results from water damage to a building (WDB Illness).

The telltale appearance of toxic mold growth following water damage. The presence of mold is often much less obvious.

The telltale appearance of toxic mold growth following water damage. The presence of mold is often much less obvious.

Symptoms of mold illness often overlap those from the ill effects of other toxins in our bodies both man-made and those from persistent germs and viruses that may be persisting inside us.

Mold illness symptoms often overlap other illnesses including Lyme Disease

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker has written extensively about mold illness and is arguably the nation’s authority on this disorder.  He has coined the name Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome also known as CIRS to describe the group of symptoms and signs related to the toxic effects of mold.  His website- www.survivingmold.com contains a wealth of information relating to mycotoxin illness.

Mold Illness and Vector-Borne Illness such as Lyme Disease are more common than widely believed

The symptoms of CIRS are much the same as the symptoms that many people experience when they have a persistent infection due to certain germs that may be transmitted by the bite of a tick, flea, mosquito or spider.  These germs include the names Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and have been described to cause diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Borreliosis, Babesiosis, Cat Scratch Fever, Anaplasmosis, Tularemia, Brucellosis, and Relapsing Fever (together this group is referred to as tick-borne or vector-borne zoonotic illness).  I often see folks that suffer from the combination of Mold Illness and Vector-borne Illness at the same time since both illnesses are unfortunately more common than is widely believed.  The list of diseases that may in fact be misdiagnosed that are actually due to the systemic effects of mycotoxins includes: (Reference-http://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/common-misdiagnosis)

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Allergy
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Somatization
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Attention Deficit Disorder

In any individual the best way to understand the nature of their symptoms is to take a very thorough history relating to the onset of the symptoms and the environmental exposures of that person.  Lab tests can then be used to further define the nature and degree of disease.   I always tell my patients that in the case of illness due to toxins in the body, the first order of business is to assure that there is not a continuing exposure to more toxins.  This is especially true of Mold Illness.  As long as a person continues to be exposed to mycotoxins in their indoor environment, it is unlikely that any form of treatment is going to be completely successful in eliminating symptoms!

As long as mycotoxin exposure continues in the indoor environment, it is unlikely that treatment in any form will be completely successful in eliminating symptoms

If mold illness is suspected or when there has been water damage or when mold growth is noted (by smell or observation), it may be essential to seek out the services of a certified mold inspector.

If there is a potential mold issue in a house and there is a moisture source, the mold will continue to grow until it becomes a much larger problem

I asked Dan Yates of Texas Mold Consultants to comment about the frequent concern I hear from my patients that they are afraid to have their home mold inspected because they believe it could jeopardize later sale of the home.  Here is Dan’s response:

“Upon the sale of their home, there will be an inspection done that includes the “water damage” area that typically is referred to a mold inspector-so that many times the mold issue will be discovered anyway upon the sale of the house.  If they have it mold inspected now, then they have the benefit of a healthier house to live in until they sell it and the extent of mold growth is stopped now.  If they ignore the potential mold issue and there is a moisture source, the mold will continue to grow in magnitude until it becomes a much larger problem.  When I do a mold assessment/testing, I am not required to report anything to the State or anyone else.”

“The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) “Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation” that is issued by a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant (MAC) and licensed Mold Remediation Contractor (MRC) is intended to prevent insurors and mortgage companies from being biased against a house that has had mold taken care of by licensed individuals.”

“Virtually all houses have water issues of some magnitude over the years.  It is ignoring the water issue that often leads to much larger mold problems that cost much more.  If the house is on the market and mold is discovered then, it appears to have a much more negative impact upon the sale compared to having an issue fixed in prior years with a Mold Certificate issued.  Legal issues can arise for the homeowner if they “had knowledge” of a water leak and did nothing-the purchaser may sue claiming the seller “had knowledge” and hid the damage.”

Dan has twenty five years of experience as a licensed mold inspector and frequently provides testimony as an expert witness in legal cases involving indoor mold.  Dan can be contacted at 512-563-2253 or by email at

Danyates76@gmail.com        www.TexasMoldConsultants.com

At Texas Integrative Medicine I am highly motivated to identify the root causes of my patients’ chronic complex illness symptoms.  I get a tremendous amount of gratification from helping people reduce or eliminate their symptoms by assisting them in removing toxins from their bodies (including mycotoxins).  In my experience assisting the body in taking advantage of its own systems of toxin elimination is usually the best way to get well and stay well!

About Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has a special interest in precision genome-based healing of chronic inflammation-caused illness and anti-aging.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  Dr. Taylor recently published GOT TO SHINE-A Guidebood for True Health and Sustained Wellness in the 21st Century available in the Amazon bookstore. 

For an appointment to see Dr. Taylor in his Austin, Texas office call 512-420-9300. Website-www.texasintegrative.com

 

STEALTH INFECTION IN CHRONIC DISEASE-PART 2

In my last blog post, Part 1 of this series, I introduced the concept of stealth infection as a cause of chronic disease.  I explained that many persistent illnesses with many different symptoms-diseases like autoimmune disease, diabetes, thyroid disorder, adrenal fatigue, heart disease, and even cancer- may in fact  be manifestations of the presence of harmful microscopic organisms called pathogens within the body.  Since stealth germs are often very difficult to identify and recover in the body, the concept of stealth infection has been underappreciated by many health care providers.  I explained how diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chronic viral hepatitis, chronic neuroborreliosis (Lyme Disease) and others are explained by this phenomenon.  I discussed how symptoms like chronic fatigue, chronic pain, arthritis, depression, brain fog, irritable bowel are common symptoms associated with stealth infections.Germs

In Part 2 I will dive a little deeper into this subject and attempt to answer some common questions about stealth infection.

Why are stealth infections sometimes difficult to diagnose?

The answer to this question requires a brief explanation of how infection is generally diagnosed.  Infection is first suspected clinically based on symptoms and signs that the patient exhibits.  Often symptoms of infection are caused by the immune system’s response to infection that is sometimes referred to as inflammation.  If the immune system does not recognize or respond to infection, symptoms of disease are often absent or diminished.  This may not be a good thing since the pathogen proceeds unchecked.  When there are symptoms of inflammation-classically fever or warmth, local or generalized pain, swelling or induration, and redness-infection is likely at fault.  Infection may be diagnosed by growing the pathogen in appropriate culture conditions from a specimen (urine, blood, sputum, etc.) of the sick person.  In the case of a Strep throat or a bacterial urinary tract infection this is straight forward.  In many other infectious diseases it if very difficult if not impossible to culture the disease-causing germ.  Viruses are especially resistant to culture.

Infection is sometimes diagnosed by seeing the pathogen usually under a microscope since they are very tiny.  Again this can be routine as when the germ causing tuberculosis is seen under the microscope in a sample of a sick patient’s sputum.  Many germs that cause stealth infection are difficult to see.  Viruses because they are extremely tiny are not typically seen under the light microscope but may be seen under an electron microscope.  Many germs that cause stealth infection have adapted the ability to enter our human cells and may be more difficult to see even under the microscope.  Special staining techniques can assist in seeing these pathogens within cells.  Stealth germs may reside in nests of sticky material known as biofilms and not be readily visible.  When stealth germs are present in specimens in small numbers, which is often the case, they may be overlooked with microscopic visualization techniques.  Techniques are sometimes employed to try to increase the numbers of pathogens in a specimen using tricks to concentrate their numbers in order to make it more likely that they may be seen.

What are some of the tests use to diagnose stealth infection?

Very commonly infection is inferred by indirect tests that depend on measuring factors from the patient that are specific for infection.  These tests are sometimes referred to as serologic tests (present in the patient’s serum/blood) or antibody titer tests.  Often, but not always, when a stealth pathogen is present it will trigger the immune system to form antibodies which are proteins produced by specialized cells of the immune system.  Of course this requires that the patient’s immune system is capable of making enough antibody to measure.  Sometimes the amount of antibody is measured at the onset of suspected infection and again later to see if the quantity of antibody rises (acute and convalescent titers).

Are some germs that cause stealth infection able to defeat our immune system?

Some stealth pathogens have developed the capability of preventing the patient’s immune system from making antibodies that would normally assist in the control or elimination of the disease.  These stealth pathogens have “learned” to become immune system disruptors in order to give them a survival advantage in evading immune system attempts to control or eliminate them.  Some stealth pathogens make enzymes that break down or digest elements of our immune systems rendering it ineffective in combating disease.  In other cases antibodies that are produced by the body may not be specific for the germ that is causing the stealth infection and the infection may be wrongly diagnosed.  These types of antibodies are said to be cross-reactive.

More recently molecular diagnostic techniques are emerging that attempt to identify molecules within the patient that are unique to a specific stealth infection-causing germ.  Often the DNA or RNA molecules of the stealth pathogen are the targets for this type of testing which sometimes goes by the name PCR testing.  DNA and RNA, of course are the unique instruction-containing “molecules of life” that differentiate one living being from another.  They are “fingerprints” so to speak that identify each creature.  Testing techniques which attempt to identify DNA or RNA of a stealth pathogen are rapidly being developed.  One drawback is that there must be enough DNA or RNA to pass the threshold of detection within the specimen being evaluated.  The exact sequence or makeup of the DNA or RNA of the stealth germ must have been previously determined in order to diagnose a specific infection much in the same way that to catch a criminal with a fingerprint, the fingerprint of that criminal must have been determined previously.  Even though the DNA or RNA of a specific stealth germ is identified in a patient’s specimen, there is no guarantee that the presence of the germ in question is directly causing the patient’s chronic disease.

Later we will explore how stealth germs actually cause disease once they enter the body.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-420-9300