Blogpost 054 – Infection
Dear friends of Centers for Healing,
Infection. It’s a pretty dreaded word, and rightfully so. “Infection” conjures images of white face masks, hospital beds, and general feelings of uneasiness. Perhaps we remember our last hard bout with the flu. For some of you, I know your own memories are much more painful, as you dealt – and may still be dealing – with much more serious illnesses, like Lyme disease, for example.
For some of you, I know your own memories are much more painful, as you dealt – and may still be dealing – with much more serious illnesses, like Lyme disease, for example.
Now, regarding Lyme disease, you’ll recall the distinction I’ve repeatedly made between having the Borrelia burgdorferi pathogen along for the ride, on the one hand, and having an active Lyme infection attacking your system, on the other.
Precisely because I’ve lately been discussing Lyme and its detection methods, I thought it would be opportune to dedicate a few posts to the general nature of infection itself.
The Four Stages of Infection
So, exactly what is an infection?
Medical science has different opinions on this matter. However, generally speaking, I think we can establish at least four more or less distinct phases for most infectious diseases. Even then, different authorities have their own preferred names for each of these.
Dr. Paridhi Anand, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, does a great job of outlining them in her post on Quora:
- Incubation period
- Prodromal period
- Acute period
- Convalescence period
Let’s have a look at the first: the incubation period. As Dr. Anand explains, incubation “is the period between exposure to a pathogen and when symptoms and/or signs are first apparent. This phase signifies the period taken by the multiplying organism to reach a population necessary to produce symptoms in the host.”
Back to Lyme
Returning to our discussion of Lyme disease, it should be clear that this description applies to the normally commensal period of Borrelia burgdorferi within its host. If that host has strong autonomic nervous and immune systems, then it is possible for the infection to remain at that level. In such a case, we don’t speak of an “active infection.”
An analogy I’ve used already is that of having the varicella zoster virus within you after a bout of childhood chicken pox. The virus is there forever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll wake up in the middle of some night with a shingles rash. A similar example is the very important difference between being diagnosed as HIP positive and actually having AIDS.
We’ll continue the discussion next week, with a look at the prodomal phase, or period, of infection. For now, keep well, and enjoy the last few days of summer!
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube