I wrote in an earlier post that my symptoms increase during Winter particularly in rainy weather or when there is a low cloud layer also known as tule fog and/or inversion.
An inversion can lead to pollution such as smog/toxins/mold spores/chemicals being trapped close to the ground, with possible adverse effects on health.
When I wrote to my ME doctor (over a month ago) about my increase in symptoms, particularly depression, he wrote back that the weather is causing increased inflammation. Lisa Petrison, Ph.D and Erik Johnson wrote an interesting article called 'The Depression Response' (found in the blog section of their website). The article links the inflammatory response to toxins and has an interesting take on depression.The website itself (Paradigm Change) is a fascinating read.
The word 'inflammation' comes from the latin word 'inflammare' which means 'to set on fire'. Everyone who has suffered a skin infection knows about the redness that develops as a result of inflammation. What I hadn't realized until recently is that the redness isn't a result of the infection per se but the body's response to the infection.
The inflammatory response can occur as a result of infections, trauma, and toxins. The symptoms of inflammation are similar to those of an infection (flu like symptoms).
The immune system protects the body from harmful substances by recognizing and responding to things called antigens. Antigens are substances found on the surfaces of cells, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They are also nonliving substances such as toxins, chemicals, and drugs.
An efficient immune response protects against many diseases and disorders. An inefficient immune response allows diseases to develop. Too much, too little, or the wrong immune response causes immune system disorders. An overactive immune response can lead to the development of "autoimmune diseases," in which antibodies form against the body's own tissues.
Complications from altered immune responses include:
- Allergy or hypersensitivity
- Autoimmune disorders
- Immunodeficiency disorders
As its name suggests, the innate immune system consists of cells and proteins that are always present and ready to mobilize and fight microbes at the site of infection. The main components of the innate immune system are 1) physical epithelial barriers, 2) phagocytic leukocytes, 3) dendritic cells, 4) a special type of lymphocyte called a natural killer (NK) cell, and 5) circulating plasma proteins.
Cells of the innate immune system include phagocytic cells (monocyte/macrophages and PMNs), NK cells, basophils, mast cells, eosinophiles and platelets.
The innate immune system lacks discrimination among antigens and can be enhanced after exposure to antigen through the effects of cytokines.
The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is called into action against pathogens that are able to evade or overcome innate immune defenses. Components of the adaptive immune system are normally silent; however, when activated, these components “adapt” to the presence of infectious agents by activating, proliferating, and creating potent mechanisms for neutralizing or eliminating the microbes. There are two types of adaptive immune responses: humoral immunity, mediated by antibodies produced by B lymphocytes, and cell-mediated immunity, mediated by T lymphocytes.
ME patients have faulty immune systems. Part of the immune system is overactive as if it is constantly battling some sort of insult while another part is weak which allows infections to reactivate.
I think it's interesting that toxins and chemicals can cause inflammation. I hadn't realized that before. I also find it interesting that constant inflammation can affect the immune system creating a vicious cycle. Inflammation lowers immunity and lowered immunity allows toxins/chemicals/infections to create more inflammation and on and on.
It seems an ideal treatment would be to dampen inflammation, reduce the toxic load on the body, moderate the immune system, fight infections, and detoxification.
For me I had to leave the moldy environment I was living in. I have to stay vigilant of staying away from other moldy environments (certain molds) or if I notice certain symptoms that indicate I'm in a toxic environment (feeling faint, sensory storms, unexplained swollen lymph nodes, muscle weakness) I need to leave immediately and take other actions.
I'm also on an immune modulator, antivirals, a low dose antibiotic, support for adrenals/thyroid, and various supplements.
Treatments did not work at all while I was living in a toxic moldy environment. I have a genetic susceptibility to mold/toxins/infections. Similar to alcoholism once my body reached a certain toxic threshold there was no going back and I lapsed into ME. My body cannot effectively eliminate toxins (especially mold) or infections on its own.
I've had great improvement by doing the above. I still can't work but I have a social life and am able to leave the house on most days whereas before I my functioning range was bedbound to 90% housebound. Regardless I needed to be laying down 20 hours per day.
Now I can be upright a majority of the day, and as stated above, can leave the house most days. My PEM has lessened considerable as has my POTS. My digestive system has improved.
I think if I moved to a drier climate where I could be outside for much of the time I would do even better and possibly even be able to stop some of the medications I'm on.