By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Viral infections are well known triggers of autoimmune disease, and there’s a specific relationship between glandular fever and the thyroid diseases Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.
Glandular fever is a contagious infection caused by the Epstein Barr virus. It’s also known as mononucleosis, and the infection is most common in young adults and the typical symptoms are sore throat, fatigue and swollen lymph glands in the neck. There are no medications that cure the infection. The only treatment is rest and strengthening your immune system through a healthy diet and appropriate nutrients.
Most people recover fully from glandular fever, although the illness can last several months and produce profound fatigue. The virus can affect the liver in some people, and lead to a type of hepatitis. This can cause mild jaundice (yellow tint to the skin and eyes). The Epstein Barr virus can also be a trigger of chronic fatigue syndrome in some people.
Infections are a very common trigger of autoimmune disease, and they can also cause a flare up of an existing autoimmune disease. A lot of research has been done on this topic. Infection with certain bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites doesn’t cause an autoimmune disease directly, like a virus causes the flu. Instead, these infections are more like the straw that broke the camel’s back. They trigger the development of an autoimmune disease in a person who was at high risk of developing one.
Certain infections have been linked with specific autoimmune diseases. This is probably because certain viruses or bacteria closely resemble specific parts of the human body. Therefore after making antibodies against a specific bug; your immune system gets confused and starts making antibodies against your own body. This phenomenon is known as molecular mimicry and is a leading theory as to why autoimmune disease happens in the first place.
As we travel through life we are exposed to more and more infections; this, coupled with nutrient deficiencies and stress, can make autoimmune disease more likely to develop as we get older. Deficiencies of selenium, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C leave you vulnerable to infections and make it harder for your body to fight them.