Biofilms – What they are and how they can keep us sick

Image credit: Phys.org

Have you ever thought you had successfully treated an infection but it kept coming back? Or wondered why you’ve had a chronic infection for years and are still not able to treat it successfully?

With acute infections like fever, swelling, or redness, bacteria live as single cells and are usually easily treated. On the other hand, biofilms are a huge reason why we get recurring chronic infections, and are actually involved in up to 80% of all infections. But what are they and how do we get them?

A biofilm is a community of microbes, like bacteria and fungi, that live together by adhering to a surface in the body, and forming a slime coat for protection (like a tent).

They can form on many parts of the body including the teeth (as dental plaque), the middle ear, sinuses, adenoids, tonsils, the lining of the heart, the lining of the bladder, bones, small and large intestines, vaginal tract, and prostate.

The microbes in a biofilm communicate with each other and share genetic material, working together to help each other evade the immune system. They form in response to antibiotics and other factors as a means of natural defence. As the microbes are protected within the physical barrier of the biofilm, the infection becomes untreatable and develops into a chronic state. 

Biofilms have been found to be in the background of illnesses including strep throat, lupus, Lyme disease, chronic rhinosinusitis, Crohns, colitis, IBD, chronic fatigue, MS, acid reflux, chronic ear infections, and even autism.

The above figure gives you an idea of what the slime tent formations in Aspergillus and Candida biofilms look like. Source of image: Fungal Biofilms

Please watch my YouTube video to learn more about biofilms, and for general protocol guidelines and biofilm busters that you can discuss with your health care professional:

 

Biofilm References:

  1. Lyme biofilm
  2. What Are Bacterial Biofilms? A Six Minute Montage 
  3. Fungal Biofilms
  4. Biofilm infections, their resilience to therapy and innovative treatment strategies. 

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