Strep throat leads to quadruple amputation for Michigan man
(NaturalHealth365) Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes sore throat, fever, headache and swollen tonsils. Although possible complications of untreated strep infection can include kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever, the illness usually resolves with no lasting ill effects.
But for one 44-year-old Michigan man, the consequences were life-threatening – and involved the loss of his hands and feet. And, you know what makes all of this so tragic? It’s avoidable when you implement strategies to keep the immune system strong.
WARNING: Bacterial infection can lead to amputations
According to WOODTV.com, Kevin Breen, of Alto, Michigan, developed a stomach ache on Christmas Day, 2016. After several days of worsening pain, Breen sought care at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, where his condition rapidly deteriorated. His stomach became distended and filled with pus, and he began to experience organ failure – which caused his body to redirect blood away from his hands and feet, and his fingers and toes to blacken.
Acute care surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Steensma characterized Breen as one of the “sickest patients” she had ever cared for.
After a telltale rash on Breen’s abdomen alerted doctors to test for strep, they discovered the bacterial infection had traveled to his stomach – making him one of only 32 people in the world to whom this has ever happened.
Although Breen is now recovering, the rampant infection necessitated amputation of his feet and hands.
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Researchers are trying to determine why Breen was vulnerable to such a life-threatening and dangerous infection. The current theory is that that the infection was caused by an extremely strong strain of the bacteria – to which Breen was uniquely susceptible – but the investigation is ongoing.
What causes strep throat?
Strep throat, or Streptococcal pharyngitis, is caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacterium. More commonly seen in children, strep throat can also strike adults – and is extremely contagious.
Although the symptoms can make you feel as if you’ve been hit by a truck, strep throat typically resolves in 3 to 7 days – with the help of bed rest, natural treatments and/or antibiotics (the go-to solution of Western medicine).
Antibiotics do kill strep pathogens, but – as natural health experts have long noted – they also work against and weaken the body’s own natural antibodies. And, with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance in mind, many look to natural remedies to ease symptoms. If you think you have strep throat, discuss treatment options with a knowledgeable medical professional.
Prevent infections by boosting your immune system
Although the strep exacted a toll on Breen’s body, his attitude remains positive, and he notes he’s “happy to be alive.” On June 6, he posted a video to Facebook showing him taking his first steps after the surgeries.
Dr. Steensma says the incident highlights the importance of seeking prompt medical care when potentially serious symptoms – such as severe stomach pain – are present. (According to the Mayo Clinic, you should also call a doctor if you have sore throat accompanied by swollen glands or a rash, a sore throat lasting longer than 48 hours, a fever over 101 degrees F, or difficulties breathing or swallowing).
But, equally important is the necessity of maintaining optimal immune system functioning.
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Enhance your immune system with vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to proper immune system function, with lack of the nutrient linked to weak immune systems and ineffective infection-fighting cells.
In one meta-analysis conducted by Queen Mary University in London, 25 different double-blind, placebo controlled trials examined the protective effects of vitamins D2 and D3 against colds and influenza.
Vitamin D3, in particular, had an effect that was equal to that of receiving a flu shot—and accomplished this without side effects or the presence of toxic adjuvants used in vaccines. Vitamin D-3, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D, is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure. It is superior to the vitamin D2 found in fortified foods.
To ensure sufficient vitamin D levels, experts recommend getting at least 20 minutes of sun several times a week.
If you live in a Northern climate or in an area where there are many overcast days, supplementation may be in order. A typical dose advised by natural health experts is 2,000 to 6,000 IU a day.
Natural remedies designed to ease strep throat symptoms
Reishi mushrooms, strongly antibacterial and antiviral, strengthen the immune system by boosting the effectiveness of disease-fighting lymphocyte cells and “natural killer” cells – important artillery against bacterial and viral invaders. Reishi mushrooms can be taken as a supplement or brewed into a tea.
Made from the bark of a South American tree, tinctures of Pau d’arco can also enhance the immune system, with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects as well.
Sage, with potent antibacterial and astringent properties, is a time-honored herbal remedy for strep throat. You can brew it into a soothing tea by pouring a cup of almost-boiling water over 2 tablespoons of fresh sage (or one tablespoon of dried sage), steeping the liquid for 15 minutes, and straining. You can also gargle with the cooled tea. However, as a general rule, don’t use sage tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Finally, you can employ the antibacterial effects of apple cider vinegar and clover honey, and the analgesic powers of cayenne pepper, to deliver a one-two-three wallop against strep throat. Mix one teaspoon ACV, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper and three teaspoons of honey in a cup of warm water.
Editor’s note: Build a healthy immune system, and prevent and reverse infections, check out the Immune Defense Summit – featuring the brightest minds in integrative medicine and science – hosted by Jonathan Landsman.