Startling new findings help explain why some people lose can lose weight and some can’t. Excess weight, particularly around the abdomen, plays a significant role in causing pre diabetes, diabetes and arteriosclerosis. Infections play a role in causing diabetes and arteriosclerosis and researchers found infections may contribute to obesity. 11% of the general population tests positive for certain infections while 30% of obese individuals test positive for infections. The 19% difference in infection rates is generating obesity research most clinicians and patients have never heard of. Researchers hope to develop vaccines to prevent infectious obesity in the future, while other might ask what can we do now?
It took me a while to understand how infections contribute to or cause arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. In treating infectious cardiovascular disease, we noted some patients lost weight, spurring my interest in infectious obesity treatments.
What are these infections and what can you do about them? Some of the infections include adenovirus, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and respiratory syncitial virus (RSV). Adenovirus is the most common cause of viral pink eye (conjunctivitis) and commonly causes colds (viral runny nose and sinus congestion) or viral bronchial symptoms. CMV (cyto = cell, megalo = big or a virus that makes cells big) may cause of wide array of symptoms. RSV causes the common cold (viral infection) in adults and children. There are multiple strains of these viruses and only certain strains contribute to obesity. Other infections such as influenza A, Chlamydia pneumonia, parvovirus and others are also implicated in causing obesity.
These problems are diagnosed with antibody testing, which are very tricky to interpret. While the exact mechanisms how infections cause weight gain is still under study, it’s known some of infections turn on internal (silent) inflammation which contributes to obesity, diabetes or arteriosclerosis. For these reasons, we recommend testing for silent but treatable internal inflammation along with antibodies to help confirm the diagnosis.
Immune system problems, infections and silent inflammation are difficult concepts to understand, but we do our best to educate patients and provide extensive counseling. A full discussion of treatments is beyond the scope of this article, but here’s the basic outline. First, specific lab tests must be ordered. One should also test for other treatable causes of obesity (insulin and glucose problems) and question if appetite controlling neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) are also abnormal. Abnormal insulin, glucose, serotonin and other neurotransmitters should be treated.
If infection tests are abnormal, they should be confirmed by repeat testing. Not all labs have accurate testing procedures. Lifestyle modifications should be considered or made as needed. Conventional medicine has no specific treatments for most viral infections and alternative treatments are preferred. Treatment to suppress infections or inflammation to lose weight requires step by step approaches covered in appointments or perhaps future articles.
David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice in Lacey, providing integrated conventional and alternative care under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM. 360-357-8054.