Chronic Sore Throat / Mood Virus

Do you have a chronic sore throat infection and/or a constantly congested nose/sinuses that persist for many months or years, as well as anxiety, depression, loss of desires, emotional flatness and/or fatigue symptoms? There is an infectious respiratory virus in circulation which causes these and many other symptoms. The main symptoms precipitated by this virus are as follows (you may not have all of them):

Early Symptoms (first few weeks of infection):

• Chronic sore throat (pharyngitis) that never fully heals (but many don’t get this).
• Constantly congested nose/sinuses/post-nasal drip with unusually thick mucus.

Additional Symptoms (appear after a few months):

• Depression and low mood.
• Generalized anxiety disorder with very severe anxiety states (even bordering on psychosis).
• Psychological changes and cognition disruptions.
• Loss of desires and sense of pleasure (anhedonia); loss of libido.
• Social withdrawal – escaping social activities more and more.
• Loss of drive and motivation.
• Memory problems both short-term and long-term recall.
• Unusual sleepiness and a tendency to fall asleep more.
• Chronic fatigue – a notable loss of energy.
• Stomach aches and pains with stomach and bowel rumbling, and excessive gas.
• Pins and needles (paresthesias), especially in the legs.
• Receding gums — a sudden onset of periodontitis, with brown plaque appearing on teeth.

Later Symptoms (appear at approximately 12 to 18 months):

• Slight wrinkling of the skin with unusual, fine-textured crêpe paper-like wrinkles.
• Weak legs and hips: legs and pelvic girdle feel slack.
• Weight gain, mainly on the belly (abdominal fat).
• Subtle loss of hearing acuity, making you slower in identifying environmental sounds.
• Progressive sensorineural hearing loss in the elderly.
• Emotional frailty, emotional lability, emotional flatness; irritability.
• Less frequently: tinnitus; blurred vision; occasional transient joint pains (arthralgia).

Other Possible Sequelae:

• Pericarditis, myocarditis and sudden heart attack in the previously healthy.
• Viral meningitis (can appear months after the initial infection).

Observation of multiple infectees indicates that this chronic sore throat virus has an unusually rapid incubation period: from the moment in time you first catch this virus (often picked up when kissing an infected person), it takes just 12 hours roughly for the initial sore throat or gastrointestinal symptoms to manifest.

Once caught, this viral infection does not seem to resolve, but remains as a persistent ongoing infection, and infected individuals seem to remain contagious for a long time (they can be infecting others even years later). It has been observed that this chronic sore throat virus gradually transmits from person-to-person through normal household contact, and once one person in a household contracts this virus, most other household members will catch it from them within a year or so. Several years after I caught this virus, it had slowly spread to more than 30 friends and family, and many of the above listed symptoms manifested to varying degrees in these 30+ people. The more severe symptoms listed above only appeared in around 10% of the infected people, but the majority of people contracting this chronic sore throat virus just manifested much milder (but permanent) symptoms, as described here.

We will see later that this “chronic sore throat virus” is most probably an enterovirus of some type, such as a coxsackievirus B.

Here is my account of how I caught this chronic sore throat virus, and how it gradually began infecting my whole body.

This infection began with a bad sore throat that I caught in the summer of 2003. Being in excellent physical shape at that time, I thought nothing of it. I had no rash on my body, though the back of my throat and the rear arch of my soft palete were red and inflamed (see image), looking a bit like a herpangina sore throat, but without pain, and without the blisters and ulcers that normally accompany herpangina. I paid little attention to it.THE HERPANGINA-LIKE SORE THROAT. This virus causes a sore throat that looks similar to herpangina. However, vesicles (blisters) and ulcers usually accompany herpangina, but in the sore throat caused by this virus, only papules appeared. LYMPHONODULAR PHARYNGITIS is the name given to a herpangina-like sore throat where there are only papules, and thus lymphonodular pharyngitis is a more accurate description of the sore throat that this virus produces. Several weeks later, however, I noticed that my sore throat had not cleared up, and instead, the infection started spreading. This was strange, because I was very healthy at that point, HIV negative, with no previous medical problems, usually fighting off colds and infections very quickly. Yet this sore throat would not go away.

Within a month, this virus had spread to my nose, which started producing unusually thick and heavy mucus. My nose and sinuses thus became blocked and stuffy, needing to be regularly cleared of this thick mucus every hour or two. (This thick nasal mucus congestion is now a permanent symptom). A constant stuffy nose like this can be classified as chronic sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, post-nasal drip, or rhinorrhea.

Then my lungs became infected, leading to a mild chest infection and a dry cough. Soon after this, the virus reached my stomach, which started aching a little and producing gas and bubbling sounds, which created some belching. My rumbling, aching stomach became a chronic – but thankfully intermittent – symptom. The virus also spread to my intestines, where it produced odorless intestinal gas (odorless flatulence), bowel rumbles and bowel bloating (now all permanent symptoms).

After another month, this viral infection manifested a distinct new phase: intense mental state changes suddenly appeared. These disturbing psychological symptoms started with a feeling of being very tense, anxious and uncomfortable, especially in social company (even with good friends and family). I also became very weak mentally: my strength of mind disintegrated, and I became frail and feeble emotionally, as if I’d lost my emotional backbone. Being with other people seemed to further perturb my mind, and so it became quite unpleasant to socialize.

As a result of these psychological changes, I started avoiding social contact more and more, just because I found it a mental strain to be with people. Avoiding company made me lonely, yet being with people caused severe tension. This extreme anxiety made it impossible for me to continue working, so I left my job.

Additionally, just reading or listening to facts and ideas created strong tensions in my mind, as I tried to process the information. I could not handle facts and details, even from a book or television, without mental tension arising. This is more or less psychosis. As a coping strategy, I limited my time with people and information to help reduce this unpleasant mental tension.

Then I quickly became very apathetic. The apathy was towards all sorts of tasks and activities. My normal pro-active ‘can do’ attitude was replaced by a ‘not interested’ feeling — which is totally out of character. I am normally a motivated, enthusiastic and highly organized person. However, as this infection and its psychological effects progressed, I began to lose interest in the usual pleasures of life (a condition called anhedonia), including pleasure from sex, and also lost the desire for sex (low libido). My enthusiasm, drive and motivation just evaporated away.

I also began to experience some short-term memory difficulties, and inability to concentrate which caused problems in my day-to-day activities. There was some intelligence loss, particularly in my verbal, spelling and grammatical skills, and I found it a lot harder to recall words, people’s names and other information from my long-term memory. Thus I found myself becoming less articulate, often mispronouncing words, and forgetting names.

Additionally, my physical body movements started getting a little more clumsy; I seemed to become physically less coordinated.

To sum up, psychologically, I became: anxious, depressed, avoiding social contact, unmotivated, emotionally delicate, confused, forgetful, clumsy, uncoordinated, with a dulled intellect, decreased verbal intelligence, and an impaired memory.

My virus also spread to friends and family (and then later to their friends and families), but quite slowly. For example, I would infect someone new only every month or two (just by normal household and social contact). That newly infected person would initially come down with the same herpangina-like sore throat symptom, and/or a gastrointestinal upset (gastroenteritis). Then in most cases, they would progress to similar long-term physical and mental symptoms, though usually much milder than mine. In fact only around 1 in every 10 individuals seem get the more severe long-term symptoms from this virus. In certain people (but not in my case) infection with this virus caused uncharacteristic and irrational outbursts of sustained aggression to appear a few weeks after catching it. For most people catching this virus, there seems to be a delay of a few weeks to a month before the first psychological and cognitive mental symptoms begin to manifest.

(As an aside, these psychological symptoms make me wonder whether a virulent virus such as this one may be responsible for the apparent worldwide rise in autism, since its psychological manifestations are not dissimilar to this condition. Certainly a lot of previously normal people who caught this virus have reported that their “mind is definitely not functioning right”. And when this virus hits a whole family, as a result of the mental changes it induces, family members can become a little more emotionally distant from each other, with family relations in general turning to a functional pragmatism. Some people with this virus start to avoid social contact a little, becoming less interested in other people. I noticed within my own mind that I lost the pleasure that normally arises from seeing friends, and from making new friendships. I think this loss of the ability to take pleasure in company is one reason this virus makes socializing less appealing. And a second reason is the huge stress and mental tension this virus can cause, so you find you cannot relax in company.)

The next symptoms I experienced were more and more fatigue and sleepiness (hypersomnia). I seemed to fall asleep all the time, even when I was not that tired. Perhaps this virus affects an area of the brain that regulates sleep (such as the hypothalamus). As this sleepiness and fatigue progressed, wondered if this virus was beginning to precipitate chronic fatigue syndrome. A large loss of appetite appeared at this point also.

Four months after first catching this virus, a pins and needles or skin crawling sensation began to appear, first in my legs, but soon spreading across my entire body. There were constant sharp prickling sensations everywhere, which felt like they were located just beneath my skin. The severity of this prickling sensation varied from one day to the next. These type of sensations are called paresthesias. Also at this stage, I noticed the onset of a very mild loss of sensation and tactile sensitivity in the skin throughout my body.

The next symptom to arise was a severe loss of smell (a condition known as anosmia). During some weeks my sense of smell would return a bit, but then the next week it would more or less disappear again. (It continued in these up-and-down cycles for two years. However, after several years, my olfactory capabilities have slowly improved, but have still not returned to anywhere near their original form.)

My oral health was then affected: my gums, previously extremely healthy and pink, began receding quite noticeably. Lots of brown plaque was suddenly deposited on my previously perfectly white teeth. No matter how much I brushed it away, the plaque still came back. Along with this increased plaque formation, and in spite of frequent tooth brushing, new dental caries (tooth decay/cavities) suddenly appeared.MY RECEDING GUMS. This virus causes a rapid-onset of periodontal disease (receding gums), and increased deposition of brown plaque on the teeth. Previous to this, my oral health was excellent. Therefore, it seems I developed periodontitis (receding gums) from this virus within a matter of months.

This gum disease may be a manifestation of the immune-weakening effect this virus creates in the body, allowing bacteria to thrive and colonize the oral region. In addition, gum tissue can be directly attacked by connective tissue-dissolving enzymes created in viral infections (enzymes such as MMP-9).

Next, I noticed my vision began to deteriorate. So I had my eyes tested; nothing appeared to be wrong with my eyes or my ophthalmic prescription. My vision seemed “smudged”, rather than optically blurred. For example, looking at black text on a white page or computer screen, the letters are focussed, yet are slightly “smudged” on the white background.

About 12 to 18 months after first catching this virus, more strange symptoms manifested: a fine, crêpe paper-like wrinkling of the skin began appearing all over my body. This fine wrinkled skin tends to first appear on the tops of the hands (see picture). The skin also shows a slight red, blotchy quality beneath its surface (but this is barely noticeable). I am guessing that this wrinkling is the result of collagen or elastin loss or damage under the skin, caused by the viral infection (again, probably due to connective tissue-dissolving enzymes).

This crêpey wrinkling is certainly not normal skin aging; its appearance is distinct from normal aging, and moreover, it manifests very quickly, within a year or two. However, the strange skin wrinkling caused by this virus is usually only noticeable in people older than 30 or so; younger people don’t seem to get it. And even for people 30 to 60 say, this crêpe paper-like wrinkling is only slight.THE FINELY-WRINKLED SKIN ON THE TOP OF MY HAND. This virus causes finely-wrinkled skin to appear on the hands and all over the body, with the wrinkles having a crêpe paper-like appearance. In those older than around 60, though, this virally-induced skin wrinkling manifests more significantly, and in addition, in the more elderly the skin also becomes loose and sagging. Searching through known dermatological conditions, the closest fit to my skin’s appearance is found in a disease called mid-dermal elastolysis.

More details of this skin wrinkling and skin sagging symptom are to be found on this page.

Another symptom that manifested at this 12 to 18 month stage was weak legs and a weak pelvic girdle. My pelvis-to-leg joints feel a little spongy and lacking in normal firmness. I suspect that the virus may be damaging the connective tissue in the ligaments of my pelvis, thus weakening the ligaments, and/or causing neuromuscular damage to the pelvic muscles. The result is a slightly less than sure walking gait, and a bit of a shuffling gait. This leg weakness and pelvic laxity is constant: it does not vary hour to hour, nor day to day. There is no loss of strength or spasm in the muscles either (except occasional cramps in my calf muscles). As we will see below, this weak legs symptom may a manifestation of some mild polymyositis. Differential diagnosis: in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), weak legs are a common symptom, but a variable one. In GAD the legs are fine one minute, and the next they suddenly get weak and can almost give way, due to nervous system fluctuations. But my case is not like GAD: my leg weakness is constant, never varied. And not that weak.

Beginning at the 18 month stage, weight gain appears, mainly in the belly area. This abdominal fat can appear even in people who were previously athletically lean and muscular. Note that the abdominal fat build-up can be caused by reduced growth hormone output, and/or the development of resistance to the hormones insulin or leptin (leptin resistance often arises in conditions of chronic inflammation).

After 2 or 3 years with this virus, further skin symptoms appear. In a V-shaped area on the upper chest just under the neck (the precise area exposed when wearing a V-neck jumper) the skin becomes a red/pink in color, and the skin texture in this area gets quite thick and oily/waxy. The color of this upper chest rash is that of a heliotrope rash. In addition, seborrheic keratosis (seborrheic warts) may appear on the skin: these are benign brown spots looking similar to moles. See this picture I took of one the seborrheic keratosis spots that appeared on my skin. My seborrheic keratosis was diagnosed by a dermatologist.

This virus generally appears to cause slight immune system weakening, and this can result in opportunistic infections arising, for example: fungal skin infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections, tooth infections with toothache, etc (all requiring antibiotics or antimicrobials to clear). The highest immunosuppression seems to occur in the first few years of infection with this virus; but after that, these opportunistic infections abate.

Several sudden heart attacks occurred in my group of 30+ friends and family soon after they were infected with this virus, one of which was fatal. All of these heart attacks happened in people who were previously healthy, with no prior heart conditions. One individual who caught this virus not only had a heart attack, but soon after also developed myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart sac) lasting for many months. I myself experienced an episode of aseptic meningitis a couple of years after catching this virus, which I think was most likely caused by this virus. We will see later that this virus is most likely an enterovirus of some type, such as coxsackievirus B. Enteroviruses such as coxsackievirus B are very commonly associated with heart attacks (evidence of enterovirus infection is found in 40% of all fatal heart attacks), 1 as well as myocarditis 1 and aseptic meningitis (enteroviruses such as coxsackievirus B cause 85% of all viral meningitis cases). 1

Certain individuals who are more severely affected by this virus can experience intense suicidal thoughts (suicidal ideation) every moment of every day, for several years. These constant suicidal thoughts are likely a result of the high levels of anhedonia (complete loss of the capacity for joy and pleasure), as anhedonia is known to trigger suicidal ideation. Knowing that this suicidal mind state is caused by the virus does not help mitigate its intensity. And although most people do not necessarily act on their suicidal ideations, the unrelenting presence of these thoughts shows just how profoundly this virus can disturb the normal brain function of some of the individuals it infects.

As with many respiratory infections, once one person catches this virus, it will spread to most other members of their household. However, this happens slowly: it takes a year or more before everyone in the household catches this virus. So clearly the contagiousness of this virus is relatively low. Nevertheless, in time, most of the household will have it, and will typically display either a chronically-congested nose/sinuses with thick viscous mucus (arises in around two-thirds of people), and/or a chronic sore throat (arises in one-third of people), plus some of the psychological symptoms such as more fatigue, slight loss of short-term memory, slight social withdrawal, and slight loss of motivation. Generally, once an individual catches this virus, they are not quite themselves anymore. However, there is a range of individual responses to this virus: about 10% of people contracting this virus experience very disturbing and distressing mental symptoms and personality changes; the rest are more lucky, and their mental symptoms are much milder.

Myself and my friends and family who were infected have had this virus for around a decade now, and judging by the permanence of the symptoms it causes, it is apparent that this viral infection is not cleared from the body and remains as a chronic low-level infection.

Summary of viral characteristics: this virus is a systemic, respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological virus, which remains chronically in the body as a persistent infection, and can cause gastroenteritis, herpangina, chronic sore throat, a constantly congested nose/sinuses, heart attacks, heart inflammation, pelvic and leg muscle weakening, skin wrinkling, increased fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome, and seems to have the ability to enter or affect the central nervous system, causing powerful and permanent mental state alterations such as mild memory problems, anhedonia, severe generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. The virus has a very fast incubation period of around about 12 hours. This rapid incubation has been reliably observed in several people when they initially caught this virus.

Summary of symptoms: The following table lists all the symptoms that were observed in myself and others as a result of this viral infection. Generally, I have only listed symptoms when at least two (and preferably more) people infected with this virus have manifested them — this is just to try to avoid the possibility of listing any co-incidental symptoms appearing in the infected people that were not in fact caused by this virus.

– COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS –

Cognitive decline — reduced attention, concentration and consciousness.
Short term memory problems and increased forgetfulness.
“Tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon — the inability to retrieve a word or name from memory during conversation.
Forgetting words and losing some of your vocabulary; more difficulty in spelling words.
Aversions to the smell and taste of certain foods (eg, meat) which were previously enjoyed.
Sound sensitivity (hyperacusis) may appear after a few years with this virus (which means certain normal environmental sounds and noises may feel unpleasant or feel mentally intrusive).
A dislike of hectic environments, loud music, and overwhelming social ambiances may appear in some people after a few years with this virus.

– MOOD SYMPTOMS –

Depression and low mood.
Anhedonia — anhedonia is the loss of interest in things once found enjoyable, due to the brain finding life’s activities less rewarding and pleasurable.
Loss of libido — a loss of interest in and desire for sex.
Loss of drive and motivation.
Emotional frailty — emotions seem weak and fragile.
Emotional flatness/numbness — the brain’s emotional circuitry seems to get hit after a year or two with this virus, such that emotional responses become numbed (blunted affect).
Social withdrawal — some people may tend to shy away from social activities.
Generalized anxiety disorder with very severe anxiety states (even bordering on psychosis).

– NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOMS –

Progressive sensorineural hearing loss in elderly people (loss of the ability to hear low frequency sounds, typically in the range 125 Hz to 1000 Hz).
Subtle loss of hearing acuity is noticed in younger people, meaning that it becomes a little more difficult to identify environmental sounds, and interestingly, more difficult to sense their exact spatial location.
Tinnitus — high pitched sounds in the ears.
Sense of balance becoming slightly less acute.
Dizziness spells (vertigo).
Loss of smell (a condition known as anosmia).

– RESPIRATORY AND ORAL SYMPTOMS –

Herpangina-like sore throat (during prodrome) where there are papules, but no blisters or ulcers.
Chronic sore throat that never fully goes away even after many years (appears in around ⅓ of people with this virus).
Constantly congested nose/sinuses/post-nasal drip with unusually thick mucus (appears in around ⅔ of people with this virus).
Dry mouth (Sjögren’s syndrome?).
Receding gums — a sudden onset of periodontitis, with brown plaque appearing on teeth.
Chronic white coating on tongue that never goes away (called geographic tongue or migratory glossitis).
Linea alba — a horizontal white line on the inside of the cheeks, one on each side of the mouth, level with where the teeth meet.

– GASTROINTESTINAL SYMPTOMS –

Gastroenteritis (can appear for one day during prodrome).
Bowel rumbles and bowel bloating — often a chronic symptom.
Flatulence — mild but chronic flatulence (which is odorless) and bowel rumbling.
Stomach rumbling and excessive stomach gas leading to belching.
Sharp stomach pains, which last for many hours, and often return every few days, are common (especially in the first year or two with this virus).

– SKIN SYMPTOMS –

Wrinkling of the skin all over the body, with unusual, fine-textured crêpe paper-like wrinkles.
Pins and needles (paresthesias) especially in the legs, but often body-wide.
Slight numbness of the skin and loss of tactile sensitivity of the skin.
Red heliotrope rash and waxy-textured skin on the chest just below the neck.
Cherry angiomas (tiny cherry red pimples on the skin) may appear after a few years
Seborrheic keratosis (seborrheic warts) spots may appear on the skin after a few years with this virus: these are brown spots that look similar to skin moles. Here is one of my seborrheic keratosis spots (diagnosed by a dermatologist).
Slow healing wounds – small cuts may heal very slowly.

– HEART AND CIRCULATION SYMPTOMS –

Myocarditis, pericarditis, and sudden heart attack in the previously healthy.
Cold hands and feet and sometimes nose (Raynaud’s syndrome) — this common symptom tends to appear a few years after the initial infection.

– MUSCLE AND JOINT SYMPTOMS –

Weak legs and hips — the legs and pelvic girdle feel a little weak and slack.
Muscle cramps, especially in the calf muscles.
Lower back pain due to cramp in the lumbar region muscles.
Joint pains — occasional transient joint pains (arthralgias) typically in only one joint.

– MISCELLANEOUS SYMPTOMS –

Increased hair loss (alopecia).
Viral headache lasting for several days (can appear during prodrome).
Viral meningitis causing non-trivial and permanent changes in mental function.
Blurred vision.
Glaucoma: it was observed that 10% of people developed glaucoma after about 5 years or so with this virus. (I noted that 3 out 30 people who caught this virus developed glaucoma 5 years or so later; all 3 of these people were over 40 years in age). In the US, the normal prevalence of glaucoma in the over 40s is about 2%.
Weight gain often appears in the belly area (abdominal fat).
Chronic fatigue – a notable loss of energy.
Unusual sleepiness (hypersomnia) and a tendency to fall asleep more.
Immunosuppressive — during the first two or three years with this viral infection, other opportunistic infections may arise due to weakened immunity.
Chronic systemic inflammation (requiring prolonged corticosteroids to control in one severe case).

This Virus is Likely an Enterovirus

None of the 10 or so medical professionals I saw were able to identify this disease or the pathogen causing it, but one infectious disease expert I communicated with, Dr John Chia, said that, based on its symptoms, the pathogen I caught is very likely an enterovirus of some type, such as a coxsackievirus B. A detailed examination of why the symptoms of my virus match enterovirus is given on this page: Evidence Indicating This Virus is an Enterovirus.

Certainly this infectious pathogen is likely to be a virus (rather than a bacterium, fungus or protozoan), as three separate bacterial throat swab cultures my doctors conducted (one at a university hospital infectious disease center), showed negative results. Furthermore, stronger evidence that my pathogen is viral comes from its unusually rapid incubation period of around 12 hours; few bacteria can incubate this fast, and the bacterial species than can are easily detectable in a bacterial culture. Thus analysis of the incubation period suggests we are almost certainly dealing with a virus.

Note: there are many causes of chronic sore throat; so your chronic sore throat is unlikely to be caused by this virus, unless you have very similar symptoms. So for anyone with a sore throat for a few days: don’t panic, it is probably not this virus.

Note: gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), aka acid reflux, seems to be a bit of a wastebasket diagnosis given when the causes of a chronic sore throat cannot be found. So if your ENT specialist told you that your virally-triggered persistent sore throat is due to acid reflux, you may want to take that diagnosis with a pinch of salt.

Further Information

You may wish to go to the Treatments page of this website, to see which supplements and drugs have proven beneficial in treating the symptoms of this virus.

If you are suffering from the severe constant anxiety symptoms that this virus seems to induce in certain people, the anti-anxiety treatments detailed on the Treatments page have proved highly effective in treating these symptoms for many people. For the fatigue and brain fog caused by this virus, I found high dose selenium on an empty stomach reasonably effective. Selenium has antiviral properties for coxsackievirus B.

If you are experiencing high levels of persistent fatigue and brain fog (trouble concentrating and thinking) after catching this virus, then you may have developed chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) from this virus, a condition which is detailed on the ME/CFS Info page.

The diagnoses for the main illness that I seem to have developed from this virus are: chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), generalized anxiety disorder, anhedonic depression, and possibly mild polymyositis.

Should any readers have the same symptoms themselves and wish to share their experiences, please leave a comment.

 

Author: “Hip”. First Published: May 2007. Last Updated: Feb 2016.
About: The author studied the physical sciences, and neuroscience at postgraduate level.