Your immune system is your protection from pathogens that can lead to illness and disease. It is comprised of a vast network of organs, glands and vessels that work together to keep you well and healthy. With a myriad of different types of white blood cells, it can neutralize, kill or remove substances like bacteria, pathogens and even cancer-causing carcinogens.
The immune system helps removes toxins that invade from the environment as well as waste created by your own metabolic processes. But sometimes things go wrong.
Many factors, both internal and external, may contribute to low immunity, which may also be referred to as an impaired or weak immune system. An impaired immune system may be a result of a number of factors such as medications, poor diet or medical treatments like chemotherapy.
Immune System Alerts
When your immune system is not working well you will get sick more often. But there are different types of immune problems including the following:
- Low or weak immune system in which one gets sick more often than what is considered normal
- Suppressed or compromised immunity due to a known reason, such as the use of steroids or chemotherapy drugs
- Immune deficiency happens to those with a severely weakened immune system due heredity or genetics, or may be acquired during a severe illness like AIDS
Suppressed immunity or immune deficiency conditions can be pinpointed to a particular illness, heredity or external factors like medications. But weak or low immunity can arise from a number of factors and can often be remedied with healthy lifestyle changes.
What Low Immunity Looks Like
Experiencing low immunity means that one has a poor or sluggish immune response. This can put you at risk to develop illnesses like flus and colds more often than others. But worse, it can make you susceptible to other health issues like parasitic infections and even cancer. Some symptoms that may be indicative of low immunity include the following:
- Frequent colds and flus occur in those with low immunity. When you get sick, your body must make antibodies to fight the bugs that cause the illness. But a weak immune system either has difficulty making enough antibodies or making them as quickly as needed. This results in you getting sick more often or never quite recovering from the previous illness.
- Four or more ear infections in a one-year period is a sign that your body cannot fully fight the infection that is causing the problem. Ear infections are caused by both virus and bacteria and often stem from an upper respiratory invader that is behind the bacterial or viral infection.
- The need for two rounds of antibiotics in a one-year period is a sign the body is not able to fight a bacterial infection without help. This may be due to a number of factors that could include lifestyle choices like a poor diet or smoking.
- Gastrointestinal problems often occur in those with weakened immunity. Your immune system relies on the health of your gut, including your stomach, intestines and colon. If this environment is unhealthy or compromised, your immune system will have a difficult time functioning. This is just one reason why diet and other lifestyle choices have such a profound effect on your health.
- Poor response to treatments for infections could be a sign of low immunity. Some treatments assist the body to fight infection so the patient can get well sooner. But if your body is not responding, it could be that the immune system is too weak to help fight the infection.
- Chronic sinus infections may stem from airborne substances that create allergies. But if you feel that you are susceptible to more than your fair share of allergy problems you might be experiencing low immunity.
- Partial or extended recovery from illness means your body takes longer to heal than the average person. When the immune system is functioning properly, the body can often fight illness and recover within two weeks or less. Taking longer may mean your body is struggling to keep up as it takes longer to create the necessary antibodies to heal.
- Infections where they are not commonly found may indicate low immunity. For example, a yeast infection is more common to the genital area, but may be found in the mouth (known as thrush). This happens as the infection overwhelms the area where it originates, while the weakened immune system is too sluggish to contain it. The infection is then allowed to spread and inhabit other parts of the body.
- Constant fatigue is common with those who have lowered immunity. That’s because your body is attempting to divert energy into the recovery process, which is why rest is an important factor of healing. At the same time, if your lifestyle is overly filled with work, stress and too much physical activity with not enough time for rest, your immune system will suffer from exhaustion.
- Slow wound recovery is common for those who have a weakened immune system. When we think of the immune system, we often think of colds and flus. But, when you injure your skin with a burn, cut or other wound, your body relies on healthy immune cells to fight any infection. Fresh blood is sent to the wound to carry immune cells to the wound along with nutrient-rich blood for healing and regeneration. A sluggish immune system will have a difficult time with this process so the wound may take longer to heal.
Infections, colds, flus and other types of common illness may be contracted by anyone. However, one with a lowered immunity may experience these more frequently as the immune system does not respond as it should, allowing bacteria and virus to continue to multiply or thrive. Lowered immunity can leave you open to a host of other illnesses, too, that can compromise your health even more over time.
How to Deal with Lowered Immunity
There are some things you can do to help boost your immunity such as:
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Exercise daily
- Consume a nutritious diet with less sugar and junk food
- Use nutritional supplements during times of stress or during cold and flu season
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Use stress reduction techniques
Your immune system is your protection from disease and key for good health. Incorporating more healthy lifestyle choices will help keep your immune system strong, allowing you to enjoy better health well into your golden years.