Immune System Weakness
Your immune system protects your body against diseases and infections. It is made up of organs including the spleen and thymus, immune cells such as white blood cells, and proteins called antibodies.
Immune system weakness or immunodeficiency occurs when your body does not have enough immune cells or antibodies. If your immune system is weak, it cannot protect your body from foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. This can make you prone to infections and diseases.
Causes of Immune System Weakness
The following causes can weaken your immune system:
- Chronic diseases such as AIDS destroy immune cells and weaken your body.
- Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis make your body’s immune system fight against its own cells and weaken them.
- Allergies and conditions like asthma can cause your immune system to overact, which can make it weak.
- Medical treatments like cancer therapy and medications like corticosteroids or immune-suppressing drugs can weaken your immune system.
- Advanced age can also cause immune system weakness. Elderly people are more likely to have problems like lung infections than younger ones.
- Smoking can harm your immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight infections.
- High stress levels can increase the production of the hormone cortisol. This hormone reduces the activity of your immune cells and decreases your immunity.
- Other factors like poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and poor gut bacteria can also weaken your immunity.
We’ll look at 5 common signs you may have a weak immune system on the next several slides.
1. Frequent Colds
According to the CDC, even with an intact immune system, you are likely to catch two to three colds per year. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, or fever. Usually, you’ll recover within 7 to 10 days.
But if you have colds more often or your symptoms last longer, your immune system may be struggling to keep up. Stress-related immune system weakness can cause frequent colds. Stress makes your immune cells weak and reduces their ability to fight infections like the common cold.
2. Frequent Infections
If you have severe infections more often, you need to boost your immune system. Frequent infections with symptoms like high fever, chills, or weakness are a sign of a weak immune system. Also, if your symptoms persist and you need many antibiotic treatments in just one year, you could have immune system weakness.
The following signs indicate immune system weakness in adults:
- Getting more than four ear infections in one year
- Getting pneumonia twice a year
- Having chronic sinusitis, or blocked sinuses
- Having bacterial sinusitis more than three times a year
- Needing more than two antibiotic treatment courses in one year
3. Digestive Problems
Constant digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, or gas can be a sign of immune system weakness.
Studies have suggested that approximately 70% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract in the form of gut bacteria. The gut has beneficial bacteria that help your immune system protect your body from infections.
Low levels of gut bacteria can cause infections and inflammation, resulting in digestive problems. This can also turn your immune system against your own cells and cause autoimmune diseases like celiac disease.
4. Slow-Healing Wounds
If you get a wound such as a burn or cut, your immune cells quickly reach the wound site to protect it. Your immune system plays an important role in closing the wound and preventing infection. The immune cells also send signals to each other to heal the wound and repair your damaged skin.
When you have immune system weakness, your immune cells are slow and can’t repair the wound easily. Slow-healing wounds can result in persistent infection, sepsis, and, in severe cases, amputation.
Chronic conditions like type-2 diabetes can weaken the immune system, prevent wound healing, and increase the risk of infection.
5. Constant Tiredness and Fatigue
You’re bound to feel tired after an action-packed day or due to lack of sleep. But if you constantly feel tired and exhausted, your immune system may be giving you red flags.
Your weakened immune system tries to save energy to fight invaders, leaving less energy for you. This makes you feel fatigued throughout the day. It can happen if you have a weak immunity due to chronic infections or autoimmune diseases.
Ways to Boost Your Immune System
If you have any of the warning signs of immune system weakness, you need to strengthen your immunity. The following steps can help you boost your immunity and prevent immune system weakness:
- Eat nutrient-rich food
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Wash your hands regularly to minimize exposure to germs
- Get your immunizations or vaccines on time
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce your stress levels
- Improve your gut bacteria
Your immune system is the key to your health. Make sure you protect it so that it can defend your body against invaders.