The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is prevalent among American adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, nine out of ten people carry the antibodies of EBV. Having the antibodies means you currently have the virus or had it in the past. The Epstein-Barr Virus symptoms are highly contagious and are typically passed from person to person through bodily fluids, like saliva, when kissing. As a member of the herpesvirus family, it is labeled herpesvirus 4. Once you get EBV, your body has the antibodies forever. They lay dormant in your system and can be reactivated if your immune system is compromised.
EBV affects the immune system by attaching to white blood cells, preventing them from fighting infection. When left untreated, it can lead to mononucleosis.
Epstein Barr Virus Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors look for specific symptoms related to EBV. Although each person may experience a different set of symptoms, some being more common than others, like the following:
- Sore throat due to swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rashes
- Swollen spleen or liver
EBV symptoms tend to hang around for weeks or months. Unfortunately, EBV symptoms resemble other illnesses, like the cold, flu, Lyme disease, and other autoimmune disorders. This variation can cause some doctors to misdiagnose you at first.
Continued symptoms should prompt your doctor to test for EBV using the Epstein-Barr Virus antibody test. It is a test that checks your blood for antibodies. You may need several tests because when the virus enters your body, it can stay in an incubation-like state for several weeks. After this period, it starts to spread through the body.
There is no cure for the Epstein-Barr Virus. General practitioners typically treat the symptoms you experience. For example, they may recommend fever-reducing medicine if you have a fever.
Epstein Barr Virus and Autoimmune Diseases
When bacteria or viruses enter your body, your immune system is activated. It releases inflammation that will find the foreign substance and destroy it. If you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakes cells, tissues, and organs for a foreign invader. Your immune system essentially attacks itself.
Some people have genes that predispose them to autoimmune diseases. However, having the genes does not mean you are guaranteed to get an autoimmune disorder. Many factors contribute to autoimmune disorders, including lifestyle habits and physical health.
Research shows that genetics is another factor. People with autoimmune genes are susceptible to an unusual EBV response: EBV can switch on the genes that cause autoimmune diseases. A specific protein called Epstein-Barr Virus antigen 2 interacts with genes associated with autoimmune diseases and, in some people, can activate them, leading to painful symptoms for you.
Researchers have found seven autoimmune diseases that EBV can switch on.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of a person who consumes gluten, but it is much more than a gluten allergy. Eating gluten for a person with celiac triggers the immune system to attack and destroy the small intestine lining.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder affecting primarily women. It is a disease of inflammation that travels through the body and causes pain and swelling. Lupus can affect any body part, but the most common areas include the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder with the most substantial connection to the EBV antigen two protein.
Much like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks its tissues, mistaking them for harmful bacteria or viruses. The inflammation in the joints can become so severe it will damage bone and cartilage. Several lifestyle factors increase your chances of rheumatoid arthritis, including smoking, obesity, and stress.
Nearly one million Americans have multiple sclerosis, each with increased antibodies to viruses like the Epstein-Barr Virus. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks and destroys the coating surrounding and protecting your nerves. Nerve damage is a result, and it can range from mild to severe in how it interferes with communication between the brain and body.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Once known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it causes severe joint swelling and pain. Inflammation, when left untreated, can cause problems related to growth, bone development, cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness.
Type 1 Diabetes
Enteroviruses are a common thread between Type 1 diabetes and the Epstein-Barr virus. Enteroviruses are diseases that cause mild symptoms in children. Some may have a runny nose, fever, or other symptoms that mimic the cold or flu. Examples of enteroviruses include hand, foot, and mouth disease and Epstein-Barr Virus. Some reports suggest COVID-19 is an enterovirus.
Research shows diseases like these can cause an activation of the Type 1 diabetes genes. The more enteroviruses a child has had, the more likely they are to get Type 1 diabetes.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
In America, 1.6 million people struggle with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, bleeding in the rectum, unexpected weight loss, and mouth sores. Three categories of IBD significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function. They include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis.
Advanced Treatments For Epstein Barr Virus Symptoms
New and developing Epstein Barr treatments for autoimmune disorders exist, and you can access them by working with an infectious disease specialist. They know everything about bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and pathogens that can wreak havoc on your body.
Infectious disease doctors have the laboratory and clinical skills to correctly identify antibodies in your blood to determine which type of infection you may have. They also have numerous alternative treatment options combined with traditional treatments like antibiotics. Examples include anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, immune modulation, and vaccine therapies.
Specialists can be beneficial when other doctors have not been able to diagnose you correctly or when other treatments have failed. They have the latest equipment to treat your infection onsite, on an outpatient basis. If you think you can benefit from the advice of a specialist, go ahead, and reach out today.