Sure Signs Your Immune System Isn't as Strong as it Should Be
Prioritizing your health has never been more important. As COVID cases continue to spike and the monkeypox outbreak has now become a public health emergency, having a strong immune system is essential. Daily habits can impact our immune health and lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet, and too much alcohol consumption can weaken your immunity. But there are ways to help strengthen our body and knowing the signs of a troubled immune system is a start. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tom Yadegar, Pulmonologist and Medical Director of the Intensive Care Unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center who shares what to know about your immune system and warning signals it's not as healthy as it should be. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What You Should Know About Your Immune System
Dr. Yadegar states, "The immune system is the defender of the body. Composed of two arms, innate and adaptive, the innate system is a nonspecific response that fights any type of foreign invader that comes into contact with the body. This arm is generally the same in most people and is composed of white cells. The second arm, known as the adaptive immune system, is specific to the foreign invader and targets it using antibodies from previous infections or vaccines."
How Your Immune System Can Work Against Your Body
"When exposed to a foreign invader, the immune system creates antibodies in response to prevent severe symptoms in case of repeated exposure," says Dr. Yadegar. "When this process turns against healthy tissue instead of foreign pathogens, the immune system attacks the body, leading to an autoimmune state."
How to Boost Your Immune System
Dr. Yadegar shares, "Getting proper sleep, nutrition and regular exercise is a hallmark to keeping the immune system functional. Adequate vitamin intake, including vitamin C and vitamin D, is also important in ensuring a strong immune system. Patients who may have immunodeficiency, such as IgG deficiency, can also receive infusions to help keep their immune system healthy."
Dr. Yadegar tells us, "Fighting infections requires a lot of energy. When the body is depleted of its normal energy level, the immune system is weakened and can become susceptible to opportunistic infections. People generally feel this when they are tired. Ensuring a schedule of restful sleep, eating a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and drinking enough water helps ensure your immune system is ready to answer the call of an infection."
According to Dr. Yadegar, "Infections that require multiple courses of antibiotics within a year may be a sign of a weakened immune system that is not able to fight off pathogens. Patients should be evaluated by their healthcare provider in order to further investigate the underlying cause."
Delayed Wound Healing
"Normal wounds require the immune system to bring nutrients to repair damaged tissue," says Dr. Yadegar. "When this process is compromised, wounds are unable to heal properly, which signals a slow immune system. Delayed wound healing is indicative of a poorly-functional immune system, and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider."
Dr. Yadegar explains, "Long-term stress compromises the body's natural immunity, which can lead to higher risk of infections. While stress is inevitable in our fast-paced lives, taking steps to mediate stress can help. Whether meditation, exercise, or deep-breathing, it's important to tailor stress-relief to the individual in order to best improve their stress levels."