Beating Back Bacteria in CFS and Fibromyalgia

Published: August 11, 2012

Series Parts: [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 ]

What's New in S.H.I.N.E. — Part 11: Hidden Bacterial Infections

In a recent newsletter, I discussed NAET as a possible way to address infections in CFS and fibromyalgia. In the past, I've also pointed out that the common viruses viruses are common culprits, and reactivated when CFS/FMS weakened the immune system.

Well, what's true of viruses is also true of bacteria and other antibiotic sensitive infections. Rare and unusual bacteria don't typically cause CFS/FMS. Rather, the weakened immune system of CFS/FMS allows a reactivation of symptom-causing infections such as mycoplasma and C. pneumoniae — infections that would otherwise be rapidly eliminated by a healthy immune system.

How can you and your doctor figure out if hidden bacterial infections are part of the picture of your CFS/FMS?

Well, if you have strep throat or a bladder infection, it's easy for a doctor to collect the bacteria, put it in a culture dish, and figure out the type of bacteria that's causing the problem — and address it. But if you have one or more of the infections that are commonly seen in CFS and fibromyalgia (e.g., antibiotic-sensitive bacterial infections, viral, parasitic or Candida infections) there aren't any accurate tests for detection. That means these infections often need to be addressed empirically without lab confirmation, based solely on symptoms and their response to therapy.

Here's how to figure out if a course of antibiotics may help you.

For example, some of my patients who take erythromycin or tetracycline antibiotic for a bronchitis that won't quit find that all their CFS/FMS symptoms improve — not just the cold! In that case, I recommend a twelve-week course of 500 milligrams of Zithromax daily or 100 milligrams of doxycycline twice a day. If you feel better on the antibiotic, keep repeating six-week courses until the symptoms stay gone (take thymic protein for 3 months [helpful but optional], zinc 20 mg a day for 3-6 months, and an herbal supplement that helps maintain healthy gut flora, Nystatin, or Diflucan in conjunction with it).

Symptoms that make me suspect that a trial of antibiotics is warranted include (I find this is the case if any of the following are present):

  1. A fever over 98.6°F — even 99°F — and/or
  2. Chronic lung congestion,
  3. Recurrent scalp sores which scab,
  4. A history of bad reactions to several different antibiotics (people misinterpret the die-off reaction as being an allergic reaction),
  5. A history of your CFS/FMS transiently improving in the past when given an antibiotic,
  6. Severe vertigo — this is when you feel like you or the room is spinning in a circle, and is not to be confused with the disequilibrium experienced by most of us with CFS,
  7. Severe night sweats that persist after addressing the Candida and hormonal deficiencies.

The basics of immune-building are the best way to keep bacteria at bay. You can boost your immunity by:

  • Sleeping 8 hours a night.
  • Optimizing adrenal gland function, to better handle stress.
  • Improving digestion.
  • Optimizing nutritional support.
  • Eliminating other chronic infections (e.g., Candida and parasites).

There are a number of articles on this site that provide practical info for dealing with hidden bacterial infections. Start with:

Other helpful articles include:


Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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