Lupus and Glandular Fever
When I was 22 years old I got extremely sick with glandular fever. I still remember it so vividly. I had been to the gym for a workout and swim as part of my normal routine but on this occasion when I got home I felt absolutely drained. I just put it down to the fact that I may have overdone it therefore I had an early night thinking that I'd feel better after a good night's sleep.
The next morning I felt as though I had been hit by a truck. I could barely move and I ached from head to toe. The fatigue was just so overwhelming but at this point in time, I wasn't too concerned as I thought it was probably just a virus and I'd start to feel better in the coming days.
Getting diagnosed with glandular fever
As the days went by however I was feeling no improvement at all and when I hit the third-week alarm bells were starting to ring. I had taken so much time off work and it was really worrying me, especially when I couldn't really explain to my employer what was wrong with me. I made an appointment to see my doctor and he told me not to worry as it was probably just a virus but he ran some blood tests just to be on the safe side. The results came back as 'normal.'
The weeks were passing by with no real improvement and my parents were getting quite anxious about what was wrong with me so they sent me to see a private neurologist. This was based on the fact that I was having some neurological symptoms too.
He ran some tests on me and said he also wanted to do some in-depth blood tests. The results came back about a week after the consultation and I was told that I had glandular fever.
What is the Epstein-Barr Virus?
For those of you that don't know what glandular fever is (Epstein-Barr Virus), it's a member of the herpes virus family and it mostly affects young adults and teenagers although it can strike at any age. It is found in the saliva of infected people and can be spread through kissing. The main symptoms include extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.
The lupus and glandular fever connection
My health gradually improved over the coming weeks and months although I never got back to my level of fitness before the glandular fever started. I found that I would become much worse after doing exercise and I developed extreme sensitivities to almost anything including foods, perfumes, and to my disappointment alcohol!
Eventually, I set up a small support group for lupus and myalgic encephalomyelitis patients and the one thing that shocked me after talking to my group members was that many of them had contracted glandular fever before the onset of developing lupus.
I decided to see if there was any connection and started doing some online research and it seems there does seem to be a link.
A study by Lupus Research Alliance researcher Dr. Matthew Weirauch has found that the virus may be turning on human genes that promote lupus and other autoimmune diseases.1
It seems that more research is being done and hopefully it will reveal more insights and perhaps in time it may even help to develop new treatments for lupus.
Have you used biologic treatments to manage your lupus symptoms?