Autoimmune Disorders: Are They Caused By Infections?


olympia sports physicalBy David Overton

Autoimmune conditions are increasing, causing frustration and suffering. What’s causing this? Are there alternative treatments? Autoimmune problems are linked to fatigue, skin problems, hair loss, dry eyes, diabetes, circulation damage, cold hands and feet, anemia, colitis, fibromyalgia, joint, liver, kidney, muscle problems and more.

Autoimmune conditions are the 3rd or 4th most common diseases. Autoimmune problems are often not considered if you are just fatigued, have “thyroid problems”, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia or other symptoms in the early phases.  Once an autoimmune condition is diagnosed, many people are not aware it can progress from one system to another, ultimately damaging circulation, leading to stroke or heart disease. Conventional medicine believes the immune system goes astray and starts attacking organs, with the treatment being immune suppressant drugs that have potential side effects.

Research strongly suggests common infections can be causes of autoimmune conditions. You can find this by reading Women and Autoimmune Diseases in the Emerging Infectious Disease Journal, November 2004 on the CDC website where John Hopkins University researchers outline how infections can cause autoimmune problems. Typically, a person suffers for several years, then a blood test is done, indicating autoimmune problems and immune suppression is started. It does not occur to anyone that a past infection could be a treatable cause.

This is very common with thyroid conditions. Viral infections are linked to thyroid problems and auto immune thyroid problems are very common, but only detected if anti-thyroid antibodies are done. If you also test viral antibodies, you may be surprised by the results. The same is true for chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions linked to autoimmune diseases.

Once an autoimmune condition starts, it can stay in one system or progress to others, such as the skin, joints or muscles, liver, kidneys, nerves and circulation. In fact, 50-60% of people with autoimmune diseases progress to damage in the circulation system. I encourage circulation tests (ECG, scans and blood tests) in all autoimmune patients to find, treat, slow or reverse their risks for circulation problems, heart disease or stroke.

What are the infections linked to autoimmune problems? Herpes, “mono”, cytomegalovirus, strep, mycoplasma, Chlamydia pneumonia, parvovirus and coxsackie virus are primary suspects. These commonly cause “colds”, cold sores, chronic sinus congestion, sore throats, “flu”, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, bladder infections, vaginal infections and are linked to prostate problems. Could it be they lead to auto immune problems?

A patient we saw had negative autoimmune tests, but symptoms that mimicked rheumatoid arthritis. Taking methotrexate had no effect. Viral antibody tests were abnormal and alternative treatments to support her immune system and suppress viruses completely controlled her symptoms. Another patient with thyroid problems and chronic muscle aches tested positive for viral and bacterial infections. Treatment resolved the aches and pains and we slowly weaned her off thyroid medicines. Only time and treatments for suspected infections can tell if a virus or bacteria is responsible for autoimmune disease or autoimmune-like symptoms.


David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice providing integrated conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. 360-357-8054



David Overton, PA-C

1315 Ruddell Rd. SE  Lacey, WA 357-8054


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