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WHAT IS A CHRONIC ILLNESS?

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

You might have a chronic illness and not even know it.


Very simply, a chronic illness is anything you have been suffering from for an extended period of time without relief. When most people hear the term “chronic illness,” they think of something like Autism or MS, but chronic illness can also apply to things like migraines, PMS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


That is because chronic illness exists on a spectrum. On the simplest end of the spectrum are conditions that persist without relief: things like acne, difficulty losing weight, and anxiety. On the most complex end of the spectrum are diseases that develop over long periods of time: things like Dementia, Diabetes, and Cancer. Between these two ends of the spectrum are diseases that are not imminently life threatening but are difficult to heal despite medical intervention: things like autoimmune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Lyme Disease.


The process underlying all of these chronic diseases is inflammation. The extent, severity, and duration of the inflammation determines how your chronic illness manifests. Inflammation creates “functional” medical problems. Functional medical problems are conditions that have not reached the state of a pathological illness, like one your primary care doctor would diagnose, but create enough changes in your body to create symptoms and keep you from functioning optimally. Functional medical problems are things like: mitochondrial dysfunction, HPA axis dysfunction, and insulin resistance. Almost all diseases on the chronic illness spectrum have underlying functional medical problems.


Genetics creases your susceptibility to inflammation but environment determines genetics expression. Your genes are like a light switch on the wall. Just because the switch is there does not mean the light is on. If it does get switched on, it can be switched off. Environmental factors like the food you eat, childhood or in utero trauma, exposure to toxins, stress and exercise levels, and much more can turn genes on or off, effectively increasing or decreasing your levels of inflammation.


According to Dr. Richard Horowitz, MD, one of the foremost experts on Lyme Disease, medical research has identified 6 triggers for auto-immune disease. These can trigger autoimmune disease by themselves or through working together. These triggers are also linked with many chronic illnesses and functional medical problems. They are:

Genetic Susceptibility

Bacterial Infections

Viral Infections

Presence of Toxins

Hormone Imbalances

Gastrointestinal Overgrowth of Bad Bacteria (also known as dysbiosis)

To heal your chronic illness it is helpful to determine your genetic susceptibilities and vital to identify your unique set of triggers. My blogs and my social media resources are designed to help you do just that!






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