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8 Subtle Signs Your Immune System is Sending You

Don't miss these warning signs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
woman worry about her teeth and look in the mirror.

You want a strong immune system these days, with the coronavirus around every corner. Unfortunately, self-isolation can damage your protective layers. Here's how to tell if your immune system is weakening, and how to get it back to full power.


You Have Canker Sores

Woman with aphthae on lip.

"It is most likely related to stress and vitamin deficiencies," says Dr. Dimitar Marinov. "So, it might be an indicator that your immune system needs support."

The Rx:  "The best way to support your immune system is to avoid deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals that support its function," says Dr. Marinov. "Eat a balanced diet that includes sources of vitamins C and D, and zinc," says Dr. Leann Poston. High sources of vitamin C include cantaloupe and citrus; salmon and tuna is high in vitamin D and zinc is found in meat and shellfish.

RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get coronavirus news, food safety advice and daily recipes—right in your inbox!


You Are Fatigued

Tired young African man using laptop while sitting at the table on a sunny morning.Concept of people working hard home

"Fatigue can be a sign of low immunity, especially when a person is undergoing a lot of physical or psychological stress," says Dr. Charles-Davies, founder of 25 Doctors, a health information site. "Stress is a proven immunosuppressant," says Dr. Lili Barsky. "Stress can increase our susceptibilities to any infection."

The Rx: Dr. Gerry Curatola, a wellness expert and founder of Rejuvenation Health, recommends "incorporating yoga poses for deep relaxation and to help reset your autonomic nervous system and restore your immune system as well."


You're Not Sleeping Well

Depressed woman awake in the night, she is touching her forehead and suffering from insomnia

"During sleep, your immune system releases protective proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. These increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress," says Dr. Curatola. "Research has found that sound sleep improves production of immune cells, which fight against pathogens including viruses and bacteria."

The Rx: Set a sleep schedule and stick to it, eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed and have no caffeine after noon.

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You Have an Unexplained Rash

young woman scratching her arm with allergy rash

"Don't ignore if you develop a skin rash that is not going away with time," says Laura McGevna Nelson, MD, board-certified dermatologist. "Rashes often flare when the immune system is going haywire."

The Rx: Many dermatologists are offering telemedicine consults. Contact yours if necessary.


You Catch Colds More Often

Portrait Of Ill Woman Caught Cold, Feeling Sick And Sneezing In Paper Wipe

"This happens when you are not recovering well from your activities or simply not eating enough," says Dr. Marinov.

The Rx: "A healthy lifestyle is always recommended," says Dr. Siddique, DOCS Spine + Orthopedics. "Hence, eat well, don't binge drink, and stay away from illicit drugs!"


You Have Minor Bacterial/Fungal Infections

woman worry about her teeth and look in the mirror.

"Thrush, caused by the fungus candida, is an opportunistic infection that causes white plaques on the inner surface of the lips and over the tongue," says Dr. Poston. "Opportunistic infections take advantage of a compromised immune system."

The Rx: If you notice this on your lips or tongue, contact your dentist.


You Have Slow-Healing Wounds

heat burn wound on her hand.

"A wound that looks infected and does not resolve with proper care can be a sign that your immune system is not functioning at its best," says Dr. Poston.

The Rx: Contact your doctor if you're not healing quickly.


You Experience COVID-19 Symptoms


Your immune system will kick into action should you show symptoms of COVID-19; in fact, a fever, one of the telltale signs, is a product of your body trying to fight the virus.

The Rx: Don't miss these 13 Early Signs You've Caught Coronavirus so you know when to ask for help.

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 50 Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Emilia Paluszek
Emilia specializes in human biology and psychology at the University at Albany. Read more