Some people get strep throat. Over and over again. Why? Can anything be done about it?
Everyone has streptococcus bacteria in their throat. Streptococci are so common in human mouths that they are considered normal flora. Humans have evolved to coexist so closely with many bacteria that we could not survive without them: in fact, the bacteria which live in our bodies outnumber our own cells!
Balance is key. Too few bacteria poses a real threat to your ability to survive, but too many bacteria can cause a life-threatening infection. Normally, streptococcus bacteria are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but when they grow into such numbers that white spots can be seen in your throat, there is a problem: those white spots are actually colonies of thousands and thousands of bacteria growing out of control.
The body has two mechanisms to control the numbers of bacteria which live on it. First, the physical barriers. Our skin is the most important barrier, proving impenetrable to most bacteria. The parts of our body that are more open to the environment (such as the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth) have their own special barriers, such as hairs, mucus, fluids, and mechanical wiping actions (such as the eyelids). Second, your body hosts a powerful system of cells that recognize and destroy bacteria that have strayed or invaded. These cells, part of the neuroimmune system, relentlessly patrol the blood stream and lymph system. The neuroimmune system relies on precise communication between cells to function properly.
The streptococcus bacteria can only overpopulate when the physical barriers or neuroimmune system become compromised. For example, if a wound breaks the skin, streptococci which live on the skin can enter the blood stream and inner tissues. This is an overgrowth in an unusual place, which is called an infection. Another example is if the neuroimmune system is suppressed due to a chronic low-level inflammation, causing decreased communication between the identifier cells and the destroyer cells. The streptococcus can grow unhindered by the body's normal defenses.
There are two basic factors to flora overgrowth: either there are too many to control, or our own immune system is unable to deal with regular numbers. It is doubtful that most cases of chronic strep throat are the result of abnormally high numbers of normal flora.
It is much more likely that the person suffering from chronic strep throat and sore throat has a neuroimmune system which is somewhat suppressed, depressed, or otherwise functioning at less than optimal capacity due to other chronic reasons.
How We Can Help Prevent Chronic Strep Throat
Proper communication between cells of the neuroimmune system is one of the most important goals of the chiropractic adjustment.
An exciting body of literature is being developed which is finding that the chiropractic adjustment reduces the amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals produced by your body. Since inflammation is toxic to nerves, the reduction of inflammation has the positive effect of enhancing the neuroimmune system. Chiropractic adjustments help the immune system.
So your body is better equipped to fight off the infection before it starts, simply by functioning properly. That is the purpose of chiropractic health care.
Prevention of chronic strep throat may help children in other ways. Exposure to antibiotics in the first years of life prevents the full maturation of your child's immune system by destroying the other flora exposure necessary for proper development. Also, an untreated strep infection can also result in rheumatic fever and heart conditions later in life.
Every person is different, so consult with Dr. Johnson of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria before making any health care decisions for your children or family.
What Else Can I Do?
Just as vaccinations require booster shots, so too chiropractic adjustments should be performed regularly for proper neuroimmune function. Every person's body is different, but children should be seen every 1-3 months if asymptomatic, and adults ought to be seen every 3-6 weeks if asymptomatic.
A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for proper neuroimmune function. Nutritional deficiencies can cause breakdowns in immune communication.
Regular exercise is essential for a well-balanced lifestyle. Lymph, an important fluid in the neuroimmune system, is moved along only by the contraction of muscles, as performed during exercise.
Reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stress has a direct impact on neuroimmune function.
Get enough sleep, especially during the night hours. "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," goes the old wisdom.
Neuroimmune health is an ongoing process in a complicated system. Be skeptical of chemical products which claim to boost immune system function without further lifestyle changes.
Consult with your chiropractor about alternative methods of boosting your immune system. As a local Peoria chiropractor, Dr. Kyle Johnson will be happy to discuss your condition with you during a free 15-minute consultation at any time. Contact us at Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria!
If you have a current diagnosis of strep throat, you must follow the advice and instructions of your diagnosing physician.