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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:27 AM
Original message
Do Third World citizens have stronger immune systems?

That's assuming they don't have some chronic, debilitating illness.

It seems to me that they would, given that they're exposed to more bacteria than First World citizens.

By the way, I'm not in a medical field.

Any ideas?
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
1. I think you're right. I knew a woman up here from Guatemala who
left the milk out of the refrigerator for hours as well as poultry and meat, and yet no medical effects of bacteria from the exposure. When we ate what she prepared, we were laid up for days.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
2. I am in the medical field
and about a year and a half ago, journals were abuzz with findings that children from the third world do have stronger immune systems than kids in the US who have had immunizations plus antibiotics for every ear infection or sore throat.

That just added extra ammunition in trying to change pediatric protocols to avoid treating viral infections with unnecessary antibiotics. Most kids don't need prevention. They need time and pain control.

I doubt we'll avoid immunizations any time soon because those usual childhood diseases can and do kill. However, it will do our children a great service if we stop clamoring for antibiotics because they're sick and miserable when the antibiotics won't do them any good and may do them harm.

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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. I agree on anti-biotics, disagree on vaccinations...
Vaccinations are either weakened or slightly less dangerous variations of certain, potentially deadly, diseases, and are designed to STRENGTHEN immune systems.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Do you want to risk your kid's life on that?
People who have a choice will vaccinate their kids every time. It's the greatest guarantee of survival into adulthood.
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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Wait are you for or against vaccinations?
You wrote this:

Most kids don't need prevention. They need time and pain control.

Since vaccinations are a preventative measure, which antibiotics are NOT, I assumed you were against vaccinations as a rule.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #13
26. That applied to the use of antibiotics
to prevent bacterial superinfections when todders come down with ear infections caused by viruses.

That's been the standard until a few years ago and most pediatricians are still clinging to it.

Sorry if the context didn't make that clear.
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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. Yeah, I believe that is a bad habit...
The dumbest thing you can do is use antibiotics for shit like the cold, and many other infections that are viral in origin. It doesn't relieve the symptoms, and ancillary infections that ARE bacterial could adapt to said antibiotics and you can have a real super infection on your hands.
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #2
17. I've never understood prescribing antibiotics for viral infections
When I was a kid my mother used to pop ampicillin down my brother and sisters throat every time they had a sniffle. I'm allergic to any and all 'cillins and couldn't take them. I was over any virus as fast as my siblings and never developed the dreaded 'secondary infection' the antibiotics were supposedly preventing.

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ProfessorGAC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #17
22. I Think Some Docs Do It To Shut The Patient Up
The patient wants them to do something. At the very worst, in the short term, the 'cillin prevents the bacterial infections from setting in if the viral part compromises the immune system.

But, aside from that, it's pretty much a waste. But, i honestly believe some doctors prescribe them because they know the patient won't take no for an answer.
The Professor
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
3. Never seen stats on that one
But I do know that kids in this country who are protected from birth from any contact with animal dander pollins, and even smoke are far more likely to react to it when they finally are exposed. There is such a thing as too clean
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Ellis Wyatt Donating Member (328 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
4. Also not a doctor, but I would think so
I think that their relative lack of accessability to medicine requires their immune system to do all the work. What that means is that more of them will die, and those that don't die will get much sicker. However, once the body recovers from the sickness, the immune system is even that much stronger.

My mother used to be a nurse and she relied no medicine as little as possible when we were sick b/c she thought it would be better for the body to work out the sickness naturally.

I don't know if it's causation or what, but now as an adult, I don't have any alergies, and I rarely get sick. When I do get sick it's violently ill for a short period of time, and then I'm fine.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:51 AM
Response to Original message
5. People rely on medicine too much
I have three children. Rarely have they been given anti-biotics. They suffer through colds and sore throats, the same way I did.

I never shielded them from anything. They slept through insane amounts of noise or light and I never fret over minor cuts scrapes or illnesses.

What I have now are three very healthy children. No allergies, no asthma, no constant trips to the doctor for every minor thing.

When we go to the doctor or hospital its for important issues.

People truly fail to understand the damage they do to all of us by running to the doctors for a pill every time thier child sniffles.

Yes I believe we've been weakening our future generations by insisting they grow up in sterile, padded enviroments. Weakened both mentally and physically.
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JustABozoOnThisBus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
6. They are exposed to more diseases
and have less access to health facilities and drugs.

So I'd guess that the ones who survive childhood have pretty good immune systems. We don't see the others.

Just a guess.
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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
8. No, you forget one important factor, vitamin deficiency is the biggest killer...
in Third World Nations, this is brought on by starvation, its actually hard as hell to DIE of starvation, you are more likely to suffer vitamin deficiency, which leads to weakened immune systems, and then you will get sick and die from hunger related diseases or immunodeficiency related diseases.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. You forget there is no hunger any more
just food insecurity.
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Solon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Gotta love the Bush Administration, redefining life's struggles, 24/7. n/t
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
9. Ever hear of the term "sickly"?
Many untreated childhood illnesses create lifelong disabilities. There are very few people nowadays in the first world considered sickly because we do such a good job in childhood and chronic diseases.

That said the perception that 3d world people have "stronger" immune systems is just a variation of the noble savage myth - that they are somehow closer to nature and therefore more moral than us first worlders who have fallen from grace. It comes from a religious point of view out of step with reason and not amenable to proof - it is a belief not necessarily founded on facts.

Healthy 3d world folks are seen, the sick and stunted ones are not. They are who we see therefore we think they are representative of the population as a whole. This is called observation bias and a common fallacy.
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Skidmore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
10. We are Lysoling ourselves to death.
Trying to live forever, we try to reduce our exposure to anything that could possibly harm us. We us antibacterial soaps to wash our hands, chemical dysinfectants to clean the surfaces in our homes, and suck the air we breathe through HEPA filters even when we have healthy lungs. Then after doing all of this we slather ourselves with chemicals to make us beautiful and ingest chemicals because we're too lazy to deal with food in its natural state. We take antibiotics and any kind of medicine you can name rather than let our bodies learn how to deal with germs.

The hardy pioneer has been replaced by the timid germophobe.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
11. The Third World people you see are the survivors of childhood diseases
Edited on Fri Dec-29-06 10:21 AM by Lydia Leftcoast
Remember that in some countries, double digit percentages of the children die before the age of five.

So yes, as one family friend said of my great-grandparents' generation, "If they lived through their first year, you couldn't kill them." (One of my great-grandmothers was one of five survivors of a family of sixteen siblings.)

I once talked about this with a former colleague who had been in the Peace Corps in Colombia. She said that the poor people there couldn't afford to take a day off work, so they worked through illnesses that would fell a First World person, including tuberculosis and chronic diarrhea. After she had worked in a public health clinic for a while, it began to infuriate her to hear rich Colombians talking about "lazy workers," because she understood that many of those so-called "lazy" workers were actually so ill that it was only by sheer will power that they kept working.

Also, as one of the posters above noted, the people who are suffering lingering effects from childhood illness and malnutrition don't make it to this country. If you go a Third World country, you'll see people who lost their sight or hearing to measles or whose limbs were deformed by polio.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #11
23. I just got back from a Third World country.
I saw people in wheelchairs with cups in their hands, asking for money. I remember two of them had deformed legs; guess it could have been from polio.

And by the way, two people told me that their government did NOTHING for people like that. Guess they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. :puke:
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #23
30. Yes, in countries such as those, "government is off people's backs"
The Libertarian paradise looks a lot like the Third World if you consider all its implications.
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siligut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
16. Natural selection
Generations become stronger when the weaker ones die before they breed. I agree with the idea that immune systems are better left to fend for themselves, a current measure, but also it has happened over thousands of years.
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pansypoo53219 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
18. aren't they prescribing dirt
to hermetically preserved 1st world kids now? i am so repelled by ads for anti-biotic this anti-biotic that. bleech bleech bleech. and YES, i will eat what i drop on the floor, if it doesn't land sticky side down. i also go barefoot almost all the time and play with my feet. haven't had any problems.
it's teevee that tells us these horror stories to keep us afraid of everything.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. (there's no dash in "antibiotic")
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:02 AM
Response to Original message
19. One thing we DO know - they have fewer problems with
AUTOIMMUNE diseases, where the body has a problem differentiating its own tissues from those of an enemy invader such as GI parasites (worms) or bacteria.

They think intestinal worms (which we don't get because of our clean water and good sewage disposal systems) teach the body to recognize self/non-self. Crohn's Disease has been put into remission in a famous research study by temporarily giving the patients a roundworm infection.

Worth contemplating, huh?
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
21. Says who? n/t
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. Read my post again. I am asking the question. nt
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 11:52 AM
Response to Original message
25. I suspect that those who SURVIVE have stronger immune systems
Sadly, many die in infancy or early childhood in such countries.
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cadmium Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
27. I didnt read the journal article. I am speculating (flipflopping)
I don't think there is a yes or no answer to this question.

People exposed to pathogens have stronger immunity to those pathogens---ie some forms of ecoli, parasites, and malaria. People that are isolated from germs are usually more susceptible. While we are isolated from many parasites we are also exposed to a lot of respiratory virus (from world travellers) but are relatively isolated from some because we have less over-crowding (as in South East Asia)

People who are malnourished in general are less immune to many pathogens. Ulcers are more easily infected if you are undernourished for example and TB is more likely to activate in a person that is malnourished

Vaccines do promote immunity so populations that are vaccinated are more immune to the specific pathogens. Some immunizations (ie BCG given to prevent TB outside USA) create some cross-immunization to other germs

In many third world countries antibiotics are dispensed heavily and while they may not harm the immune system per se they may create super-bugs in the host. You can go into a pharmacy in some third world countries and get injections of antibiotics over the counter no questions asked.
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Bridget Burke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
29. The ones who survive often do.
The others usually died when they were young.
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