10 Scary Diseases Are Linked to This Common Virus

10 Scary Diseases Are Linked to This Common Virus

(AscendHealthy.com) – Viruses affect us in differing ways, some more severely than others. We’re just beginning to understand the extent of their effects, and the more we learn, the scarier some viruses become. One of the most common could also be among the most terrifying.

According to a Science Daily release, about 90% of the population catches Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) at some point. It causes mild, if any, illness in young children, but in teenagers and adults, it usually presents as “mono” (otherwise known as the “kissing disease”). Infection can cause severe fatigue, but most people recover within a few months.

Just because a person beats the infection now doesn’t guarantee the virus won’t cause other problems down the road, however. Here are 10 scary examples of how EBV can cause long-term effects.

Autoimmune Diseases

Viruses have several strategies for attack, and one of EBV’s underhanded tactics involves altering its hosts’ very DNA. According to a study recently published in Nature Genetics, this tricky virus is capable of switching on genes responsible for seven different autoimmune diseases:

  1. Celiac disease is an autoimmune response to gluten that leads the body to damage the small intestine.
  2. Inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, causes chronic inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness in children. Some children experience internal organ or eye involvement as well.
  4. Multiple sclerosis occurs when the immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leading to severe nerve pain and loss of muscle control.
  5. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints, most commonly those in the wrists and fingers. Symptoms, which can also affect the lungs, mouth, eyes and other areas of the body, tend to come and go.
  6. Systemic lupus erythematosus causes the immune system to attack multiple parts of the body, leading to joint pain, fatigue, rashes and hair loss among several other possible symptoms.
  7. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin, which is necessary for sugar metabolism. Symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, weight loss, dry skin, slowed healing, nerve problems and fatigue.

EBV can achieve these terrifying effects by unlocking dormant genes using a protein specific to the virus, EBNA2 protein. The different genes, when turned on, increase a person’s chances of developing different autoimmune disease symptoms.

Multiple Types of Cancer

Like with many viruses, an EBV infection doesn’t usually end with the body completely fighting it off. Instead, when the battle is nearly over, the remaining viruses find a dark, quiet place to hide and go dormant — and sometimes, they reactivate. EBV may reemerge to cause more genetic damage, with the potential to trigger at least three different types of cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancers linked to EBV include:

  1. Nasopharyngeal cancer begins in the nasopharynx, the area behind the nasal cavity and upper throat. Symptoms can include hearing loss, nasal stuffiness, headaches, changes in vision, and trouble opening the mouth or talking.
  2. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system, generally attacking lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, and other areas that contain lymph tissue. EBV could cause a second type of lymphoma called Hodgkin lymphoma, which causes similar symptoms.
  3. Stomach cancer symptoms can vary depending on the area of the stomach affected, but they generally involve digestive issues, nausea, heartburn, a sense of fullness in the stomach and passing blood.

EBV-related cancers aren’t common, and they’re most likely to occur in people with impaired immune systems.

Infections associated with EBV can cause a lot to go wrong in a body, but because most of us have already caught it, avoidance isn’t a real option. Consider taking measures to boost the immune system and cut controllable cancer risks, like smoking and poor diet, to help balance the odds. Be sure to be your own advocate when seeing a doctor about any new symptoms. Don’t go down without a fight.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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