What Causes the Flare Ups for People with Chronic Health Issues?
Getting a simple virus can leave you with symptoms for far longer than the average person who gets sick. It is a combination of factors—one, the virus finds your weak spots, and two, your immune system does not have enough fire power to put out the fires it is fighting on multiple fronts including the real and perceived threats.
These are reasons I am so vigilant about my health. This is why I weigh very carefully every medical procedure – even minor ones that I get. I have been continually monitoring my COVID19 antibodies since 2021. For most of last year after receiving 2 initial shots, my antibodies were hovering around 3, which according to the Quest Lab report was high. This past month, I had them retested and my antibodies were at 150—literally off the chart. I did have a nasty bout of COVID last summer so that might explain the numbers. Armed with this information, I made the prudent decision to not get another booster right now. Mark has had several boosters. I did, however, get a shingles shot which may have contributed to my autoimmune flare up.
The Cell Danger Response (CDR)
Recently I participated in a webinar to learn the latest information about autoimmune diseases, and expert Dr. Daniel Pompa mentioned something I had not really considered before. While it is common knowledge that autoimmune disease sufferers have a hyper vigilant immune system, overreacting to what should be non-threatening situations, it goes deeper than this. Scientists have determined that the threat detection system is dysfunctional at the cellular level. This is known as CDR, the Cellular Danger Response. From PubMed: “The cell danger response (CDR) is the evolutionarily conserved metabolic response that protects cells and hosts from harm. It is triggered by encounters with chemical, physical, or biological threats that exceed the cellular capacity for homeostasis.”
In other words, a trauma could trigger your cells to go out of balance, metabolically speaking. Here is the bigger issue.
“At a cellular level, the cell danger response cannot be turned off until the cell receives the final ‘all clear’ signal. Until then, the CDR remains stuck in a repeating loop that blocks further healing in an attempt to eradicate perceived danger. This can lead to long-term suffering, disability, and chronic disease.” 1
It is no wonder that I have been experiencing autoimmune flare-ups post Hurricane Ian and I am not the only one locally. When I recently visited my dermatologist, she mentioned they are seeing record numbers of people with aggressive skin cancers, another possible autoimmune disease.
Lessons Learned from the Latest Flare Up
To use a simple analogy, those of us with autoimmune disease have an overanxious mother (inside our cells) ready to man the battle stations. This is a reason why so many sufferers also experience bouts of anxiety. It is why it is so key to calm down the cells, the body, the mind, the nervous system, and the heart.
Many times, I am successful using tools like eating better, doing gentle somatic yoga, getting more sleep, using HeartMath emotional regulation tools, and taking additional supplements.
However, I am not always successful!
Case in point. This past week the stomach bug that I thought I had successfully recovered from a few weeks ago, came back with a vengeance. I have to admit that I was doing too much and not being as careful as I normally am about sleep and diet. The symptoms included elevated blood pressure, vertigo, being unable to eat and digest properly, and total exhaustion. I was a mess, and I was very upset about it. I reached out to my dear friend, a very knowledgable and caring Chinese Medicine Doctor, and this is what she wrote back to me.
“The best thing to do is to continue to apply heat to the gut to bring blood flow and immune response into the area. Eat light uncomplicated unprocessed food. Get lots of sleep. Herbs that could be helpful are things like fennel, licorice, elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, ginger, and turmeric. Try to eat more fiber (lots of fruits and veggies), and less fat and starch. Go easy on nuts and seeds and chocolate since they can enhance viral replication.”
I canceled all my appointments, put away my chocolate in the freezer for a few weeks and stopped eating so many nuts. I laid on the biomat with a hot water bottle on my belly and a heated pillow under my neck. The dogs were so happy to have me around. We all fell asleep for hours. I am still lightheaded but am listening more carefully to my body.
A few lessons I learned that might help you
- Effects from Hurricane Ian or any trauma you have been through will affect your immune system for a long time
- People with compromised immune systems will need to take more steps to stay healthy after a traumatic event
- Rest, rest, rest is a key component of healing that cannot be overlooked.
- Autoimmunity is a moving target and will continually need to be monitored
We all want to be comfortable in our routines. When we need to change our so-called healthy habits to manage new symptoms, it can cause us great distress. Some clients describe this as feeling like a dog chasing its tail.
These past few years, we have heard a lot about a new disease called Long Haul COVID. If you have been dealing with an autoimmune disease for a while like I have, you are probably saying to yourself “I have Long Haul…. Something.” Long Haul Epstein Barr Virus, Long Haul Lyme disease, or Long Haul lingering effects from parasites, mold or toxic exposures which activated the Cellular Danger Response and ultimately autoimmune disease.
I want to end this article on an uplifting note. It is a process to learn to be vigilant without being neurotically over-vigilant, careful without getting into anxious overcare, accepting without ignoring real symptoms and issues. But I tell you it is possible. Don’t give up. I am here to help. Check out my services on the website or reach out to me by email.