Do You Have an Invisible Illness?

by Dr. David Peterson

“Nearly 25 years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Having tried countless types, brands, and combinations of thyroid hormones, I continued to struggle with profound fatigue, digestive problems, and an ever growing and worsening list of symptoms. Consults at top US medical centers left me empty-handed and, at times, demoralized. My husband, friends, and colleagues watched in distress, as I grew weaker and increasingly ill.

I reacted to everything I ate as my heart raced and pounded in my chest. Then headaches, nausea and fatigue occurred throughout the day. I could not sleep and was taking sleep medication that did not really help. My diet had regressed to boiled chicken and broccoli. I was unable to leave the house because I never know when it would happen. I suffered from constant pain throughout my body.

I could write volumes about the doctors who treated me like a hypochondriac until I finally found one who recognized what I have. You just have to visit different doctors until you find one who listens to you.” S.S.

This woman’s husband called to express his concern about his wife’s invisible illness. How could she look so good and feel so rotten? My answer to him was that in addition to having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, his wife’s condition had devolved into a condition known as Cytokine Induced Sickness Behavior (CISB). Thyroid Disorders, Autoimmune Diseases, and CISB are intricately associated.

CISB sickness behavior is seen in patients with autoimmune conditions or cancer and has been described as a symptom cluster. Sickness behavior may be the result of both the disease and the treatment. These symptoms translate to a poor quality of life for the patient. CISB individuals have little motivation to eat, are listless, complain of fatigue and malaise, lose interest in social activities, and have significant changes in sleep patterns. They have an inability to experience pleasure, may have exaggerated responses to pain and an inability to concentrate. Sickness behavior includes lethargy, depression, anorexia, energy conservation, fever, and cognitive impairment. Those suffering from CISB are complicated patient cases and are often diagnosed as depression or bi-polar. Many with CISB find themselves having adverse reactions to medications and supplements.

“Having tried all that medical doctors could offer without improvement and, more recently, experiencing further damage, it was time for a change. Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book, Why Do I Still Have Symptoms? If My Lab Tests Are Normal led me to Dr. David Peterson. Even though his office is in Missouri and I live two time zones away, Dr. Dave’s protocol combining laboratory testing with patients’ qualitative descriptions led to accurate diagnoses of all that has been triggering my inflammation and autoimmune disease. This was truly a first.

Dr. Dave’s depth of knowledge and experience and keen diagnostic skills have led to a turn-around in my health. Objective and subjective measures show that inflammation has been steadily declining and strength and vitality are returning. It feels like a miracle but it is, in fact, based in science. Thank you, Dr. Dave!” S.S.

CISB is a behavioral complex induced by infections and immune trauma and mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. This adaptive response is the body’s attempt to enhance recovery by conserving energy to combat chronic inflammation. During inflammation brought on by physical triggers (food, bacteria, environmental, etc.), there is increased production of certain cytokines and chemokines (small messenger proteins) by white blood cells and other cell types. When cytokines and chemokines are released into circulation, systemic and neurological symptoms result. To further complicate the situation, hormone dysregulation and neurotransmitter (chemical text messengers) imbalances occur simultaneously.

It is now possible to develop clinical supplement protocols that are aimed at controlling or inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Lab tests are available to evaluate cytokine, neurotransmitter, and hormone imbalances. Treatment strategies relieve patients from the symptoms of sickness behavior and correct the origin of the inflammation. In my clinical experience, my motto for CISB patients is that they must be treated ‘low and slow’ so as not to provoke any pro-inflammatory immune or excitatory neurotransmitter response.

CISB symptoms are real. If you or someone you know has an invisible illness, contact Wellness Alternatives at 636-227-2929. We are experts in Functional Medicine. Stlwa.com.