Today, I would like to talk to you about, how do you know if you are having a chronic or a recurrent infection. The symptoms sometimes can be vague and look like a lot of other things, so I want to talk about what to look out for. Maybe something to think about if you just haven’t been feeling well for a while. Some of the things I see commonly in my practice are these ongoing nagging issues that are not necessarily symptoms that you experience every day. 

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Sometimes these are symptoms that come and go, although they can be something that you have daily. There are variations on how they affect different people. That flu-like feeling when you’ve just got body aches, being tired, your head hurting, symptoms of that nature could be a sign that there’s this ongoing underlying infection.

Because infections affect different parts of the body, depending on what persists for you, it might look just a little bit different. Example: someone who gets chronic sinus infections, versus someone who gets chronic bronchitis that affects the lungs, versus children who get ear infections again and again, versus women who get vaginal yeast infections over and over, or urinary tract infection. 

You might see a more compartmentalization of these different infections, depending on what your weak area of the body is.Tweet that!

I’m thinking about other things that aren’t that obvious. 

If you’ve got a urinary tract infection and it hurts every time you go to the bathroom, it might be obvious to you that you’ve got a UTI. But if you have got these vaguer symptoms, that might be a little bit more difficult to discern. Some of the things I think about, or I see in my practice are things like chronic fever, particularly when you see fever come in and out. These unknown fevers, they could be low grade, sometimes they’re high grade anywhere from 99.1 up to sometimes 102 or even 103. They may come every two weeks, every three weeks. People cycle in and out. 

Often when you go to the doctor, you get blood work done and everything looks normal, but when you see recurrent fever like that, that is a sign that the immune system is fighting something. It’s certainly not very specific to any one kind of infection, but that’s a big red flag. If you are getting recurrent fever and/or chills, that’s often a sign that there’s some sort of underlying infection. You and your healthcare provider need to do that detective work and try and figure out what it is.

Body aches, body pain, that deep muscle pain, even joint pain could be a sign of recurrent infection. 

It may be a recurrent infection where you experience it on an ongoing basis, or it might be something that kind of comes and go. When we think about Lyme disease, Lyme disease can affect the joints but it’s not necessarily the same joint. Lyme is known to cause migratory joint pain, where one day it’s your right shoulder, the other day it’s your left knee, and then your right ankle; it just seems to move around your body. That’s a symptom I often see. 

But for other types of infections, other types of viruses, other types of bacteria, you might have joint pain that’s the same joint. My low back hurts all the time, or my hips hurt all the time. It may not necessarily migrate. Ongoing joint pain when it’s not related to an injury, not related to an athletic sport you may have done when you were younger, you’ve had X-rays or MRIs, you don’t see any degeneration in the joint itself; when we know it’s not anatomical and we’ve got evidence to show that, it could be a red flag that maybe there’s some sort of underlying infection that you need to address.

Fatigue comes up with a lot of different infections, whether they’re bacterial, viral, or even parasitic, fungal. Unfortunately, these are very nonspecific symptoms. Tweet that!

The Epstein-Barr virus that we associate with chronic fatigue syndrome, can make you extremely tired. Lyme can make you very tired. Even chronic strep infections can make people so tired. Persistent fatigue when you’ve ruled out other things like anemia, we know it’s not hormonal, we know it’s not metabolic, and we know it’s not a nutritional deficiency. When you do all that blood work and everything on paper looks pretty good and you’re still persistently fatigued (it’s certainly not the only thing wrong), that might be something to investigate. Check if there is any other kind of underlying infection that really hasn’t been addressed.

Mysterious skin rashes that come out of nowhere, and could be anywhere on the body, they look quite different depending on what’s causing  the recurrent infection. 

There are fungal skin rashes, which tend to be very itchy and scaly, there are bacterial skin rashes that tend to be more red and angrier looking. When you see these skin rashes that come and go, particularly if they get red and they get inflamed, or sometimes they get scaly, I will certainly recommend seeing your healthcare provider or a dermatologist. Have them look at that rash, see if they can figure out what it is. There is a plethora of things that can cause skin rashes. When you see these skin rashes that come and go, on and off, and they often don’t get better, that might be something to look at as well. Is there some sort of underlying infection?

Headaches and Migraines

You could have an infection that’s affecting your central nervous system. When we talk about central nervous system infections, we are not always talking about that you’ve got an infection in the brain itself. Sometimes, it’s the immune system fighting an infection that’s elsewhere in your body. It just accidentally affects your nervous system. You can get an autoimmune reaction that affects your brain or even your peripheral nerves, which will affect your hands and your feet and so forth. 

There are different reasons that you’ve got chronic headaches, chronic migraines that might come and go. Again, it’s certainly not specific to any infection, but it’s something that I would always put on my list to rule out, particularly if that headache or migraine also happens at the same time with a joint pain, with muscle pain, with fatigue, and/or other symptoms. When you see all these symptoms together, it is a pretty good indication that there may be sort of some underlying infection.

When you see those compartmentalized issues (a child who has chronic ear infections, somebody who gets chronic bronchitis) that keep coming up over and over and over, and you keep getting treated over and over and yet it never really seems to clear up, you got to dig a little bit deeper to try and figure out why these infections keep coming up. I talked in my last video about some of the 6 common reasons I see of why people get persistent infections or chronic infections.

I hope this gives you a better understanding about some of the signs and symptoms to be aware of. If you’ve been experiencing them, definitely go see your healthcare provider, get it checked out, and just make sure that some sort of persistent infection isn’t part of what is causing your symptoms.

I hope you found this video helpful.


Thank you,

Dr. Darin Ingels

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