Epstein-Barr is one of the most widespread human viruses. It is highly noticeable, even when it is in an active state inside our body. It is surprising that by 35 years of age, almost every individual develops antibodies to EBV, indicating past infection. The pathogens of Epstein-Barr are never ultimately defeated by our immune system, which leads them to stay dormant for years, waiting for triggers for reactivation. This virus is responsible for many health conditions.
Although it does not transmit through a cough or sneeze, its main transmission occurs through close contact. Infected people shed this in their saliva. It can cause mononucleosis causing fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
To learn more about this sneaky virus, read this article till the end.
What is Epstein-Barr Virus?
Epstein-Barr Virus or EBV is a common virus in adults. It is a herpes virus family member and can stay dormant in your body for years without you knowing it. Our immune system is not ultimately defeated and waits in the body for a trigger to reactivate it.
Infectious mononucleosis is the condition that this virus is associated with. Research is being done to discover the connection of EBV with other illnesses, including autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc. EBV is primarily spread through saliva, which is why it is also known as the kissing disease. 9 out of 10 adults are infected with this virus.
Sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes are just a few of the many symptoms experienced by patients exposed to the Epstein-Barr virus. It can cause mono in many people and is also known to be the cause of damage to the brain, nervous system, and spinal cord. For people with already high levels of inflammation, exposure to this disease might even be fatal.
Inactivity of Epstein-Barr
Epstein-Barr likes to keep a low profile in a person’s body. Individuals exposed to this virus may or may not experience the symptoms.
There are several immune cells involved in keeping the virus in its inactive form. That is, if your immune system is healthy and functioning correctly. However, if your immune cells are occupied fighting off some other illness or busy elsewhere, the virus might choose these critical conditions to come out of hiding and to attack. This reactivation of the virus can cause high levels of fatigue and stress.
It’s also challenging for medical professionals to diagnose this condition as it has very similar symptoms to other diseases.
How can you know you are exposed to Epstein-Barr? Well, the symptoms mentioned below might help you determine whether Epstein-Barr Virus has gotten hold of you.
- Sore throat
- High fever
- Rashes on skin
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Swollen liver
- Enlarged spleen
- Weakened immune system
Epstein-Barr Virus may also be the leading cause of autoimmune flares or other conditions linked to EBV. Apart from the patient’s symptoms after reactivation of this virus, there might be several medical conditions that develop as the virus stays inside the body, increasing inflammation and possibly even weakening the immune system.
EBV, if activated, might attack your body’s B-lymphocyte. This can impact different organs and tissues. Furthermore, EBV can increase the risk of cancer, thyroid disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. This virus is just too dangerous!
Causes of Epstein-Barr Reactivation
Epstein-Barr remains dormant due to your immune system function. However, at times your immune system weakens due to specific reasons. This weakness is taken advantage of by the Epstein-Barr Virus, and it activates inside your body.
This tells us that the leading cause of reactivation of the Epstein-Barr Virus is the fragility of your immune system function. Let’s look into the reasons that cause your immune system to weaken.
1. Uncontrolled Stress
Unmanaged or uncontrolled stress over a long period can develop several medical conditions inside your body. These conditions are due to imbalances of your biochemicals which result in a weak immune system. The part of your nervous system responsible for stimulating and regulating your blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion also gets affected.
Uncontrollable stress reduces the ability of our immune system to fight off antigens. This makes us more susceptible to infections as corticosteroid, a stress hormone, suppresses immune system function.
2. A Secondary Infection
A co-infection or a secondary infection arises while a previously contracted virus is present inside your body. This causes the immune system to weaken as it fights on two fronts instead of focusing on one.
3. Deficiency of Critical Nutrients
Malnutrition, especially PEM (Protein Energy Malnutrition), causes an immunodeficiency that leads to infection severity. A healthy immune system needs eight essential minerals and vitamins, including Vitamin C, E, A, D, Iron, Zinc, Folate, and Selenium.
4. LGS (Leaky Gut Syndrome)
The body’s gut microbiota imbalance can cause fallibility in the immune response. The immune system weakens due to gut inflammation and IP (Increased Intestinal Permeability). The undigested food particles, germs, and bacterial toxins can pass the gut wall and into the bloodstream triggering persistent inflammation and weakening the immune system response.
5. High toxicity (Excessive drug intake)
High toxin exposure in your body shrinks the thymus, which in turn decreases the production of T regulatory cells. These regulatory cells are responsible for strengthening the immune system function by limiting chronic inflammation, preventing autoimmune diseases, and maintaining peripheral tolerance.
When these T regulatory cells diminish in our body, we are at greater risk of immune system dysfunction.
What is Chronic EBV?
EBV infections can rarely lead to chronic conditions called CAEBV (Chronic Active Epstein Barr Virus). A blood test proves its presence in your body. This chronic virus starts as the EBV infection, but it is not controlled due to a weak immune system, allowing it to stay activated and develop into CAEBV.
CAEBV causes various complications, including immune system weakness, organ failure, hemophagocytic syndrome, lymphomas, etc.
Many people are affected with EBV during childhood but do not recognize the symptoms until later. However, if adults or teenagers contract this virus, they experience fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and other symptoms.
EBV is also associated with autoimmune disorders, cancer, and other diseases. Moreover, additional research is required for determining the function of EBV in different conditions. Effective ways to strengthen immune system function should be adopted to avoid reactivation.