The human immune system is a complex system made of cells and organs that work together to protect our bodies from harmful germs such as viruses and bacteria.
However, not everyone’s immune system functions well.
Some people have a weakened or compromised immune system due to various factors such as medical conditions, medications, or treatments.
These people are called “immunocompromised”.
This means that their immune system is not able to function as well as it should.
Being immunocompromised can put individuals at a higher risk of developing infections and other health complications.
It also may require more frequent medical clinic services.
Here at 1stCallHealth, we’re a Washington DC primary care clinic, and we can help.
Read on to see what it means to be immunocompromised, the different ways to be immunocompromised, and what you can do if you have this condition yourself.
What Is Your Immune System?
Your immune system is an amazing defense mechanism that protects your body from harmful germs.
It’s a very sophisticated system that can adapt and respond quickly.
This makes it an essential part of your overall health and wellbeing.
The immune system is not just limited to protecting you from infections.
When your immune system is functioning correctly, it can effectively identify and eliminate abnormal cells.
This can prevent them from developing into cancerous tumors.
It is essential to maintain a healthy immune system.
You can do this through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
Maintaining a healthy immune system is important to successfully protect your body against pathogens and maintain good health.
What Is An Immune Response?
An immune response is the way your body fights off germs and other harmful things that can make you sick.
When your immune system detects a germ, it sends special cells called T and B cells to attack it.
These cells produce tiny particles called antibodies that stick to the germ and help other immune cells identify and destroy it.
The immune system also sends out signals called cytokines that help to coordinate the response and recruit more immune cells to the site of infection.
It can take some time for your immune response to develop.
Once it does, it can effectively counteract infections and provide you with long lasting protection against future infections.
What Is Immunodeficiency?
Immunodeficiency is a condition that keeps your immune system from functioning properly.
This leaves your body vulnerable to infections and other complications.
Immunodeficiency can be caused by:
- Genetic disorders
- Chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes or kidney disease
- Immunosuppressant medications
Other environmental or lifestyle factors can also increase your risk for immunodeficiency.
- Environmental toxins
- Chronic stress
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Lack of sleep
If left untreated, immunodeficiency can lead to severe health complications, including organ damage and increased risk of a wide variety of illnesses.
How To Tell If You Have An Immunodeficiency Disorder?
Immunodeficiency disorders can be challenging to diagnose.
This is because the symptoms can vary widely depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.
Some common signs of immunodeficiency include:
- Frequent and recurring infections
- Slow healing wounds
- Treatment resistant infections
- Recurring fevers
Sometimes, people with immunodeficiency may develop autoimmune disorders.
When you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system starts to attack your body’s own tissues.
This can cause inflammation and damage to those tissues in your body.
Are There Different Types Of Immunodeficiency Disorders?
There are actually two kinds of immunodeficiency disorders.
These are known as primary immunodeficiency disorders and secondary immunodeficiency disorders.
Let’s take a look at each of these types.
Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders
Primary immunodeficiency disorder is a group of genetic disorders that affect the development or function of your immune system.
These disorders can affect various components of your immune system.
It is a rare condition that typically presents itself in childhood, although some forms may not be apparent until adulthood.
The severity and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency disorder can differ widely.
Some common signs and symptoms include recurrent infections, slow healing, and autoimmune disorders.
Primary immunodeficiency disorder is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory testing.
Secondary Immunodeficiency Disorders
Secondary immunodeficiency disorder is a condition in which the immune system is compromised due to external factors.
Unlike primary immunodeficiency disorder, which is caused by genetic defects, secondary immunodeficiency disorder is usually acquired later in life.
Common causes of secondary immunodeficiency disorder include chronic illnesses, malnutrition, and certain medications.
People with secondary immunodeficiency disorder may experience similar symptoms to those with primary immunodeficiency disorder.
Treatment for secondary immunodeficiency disorder typically involves addressing the underlying cause.
This might look like switching to a different medication or treating an underlying infection.
What Are The Risks Of Immunodeficiency Disorders?
Immunodeficiency disorders can increase your risk of developing serious and potentially life threatening infections.
If you have an immunodeficiency disorder, you may be more prone to simple infections, like the flu or urinary tract infections, that are easier for a healthy immune system to deal with.
In severe cases, these infections can lead to sepsis, organ failure, and death.
Additionally, you may have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.
The severity and type of complications you may experience can vary depending on the specific type and extent of the immune system dysfunction.
It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have an immunodeficiency disorder.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.
What To Do If You Have An Immunodeficiency Disorder
If you’ve been diagnosed with an immunodeficiency disorder, there are several things you can do to manage your condition and reduce the risk of complications.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. Practice Good Hygiene
Practicing good hygiene is essential for people with immunodeficiency disorders.
Good hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection.
This includes washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom or being in contact with someone who is sick.
It’s also important to avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, or toothbrushes, which can host bacteria and viruses.
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick or have recently been vaccinated with a live vaccine, such as the flu, is also important.
2. Eat A Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial for people with immunodeficiency disorders.
A balanced diet can help support immune function and reduce the risk of infections.
Nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc have been shown to support immune function.
It’s important to include foods that are rich in these and other nutrients in your diet.
3. Stay Physically Active
Exercise can help boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce stress levels, which can all help to support the immune system.
Moderate intensity exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming may be recommended.
It is also important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
Overexertion can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid exercising in crowded, public areas during times when infectious diseases are prevalent.
4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates cells, including those involved in the immune function.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a weakened immune system.
It’s recommended that adults normally aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Children and teens may require more.
People with immunodeficiency disorders may also benefit from establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a sleep conducive environment.
5. Avoid Exposure To Illness When You Can
Avoiding exposure to illness is crucial for people with immunodeficiency disorders.
When you have an immunodeficiency disorder, your weakened immune system makes you more susceptible to infections.
This means taking extra precautions to avoid exposure to germs.
This may include avoiding crowded places, such as shopping malls, public transportation, or concerts.
You may also want to wear a face mask when in close proximity to others or when in public places to reduce the risk of exposure.
Book Your Appointment With 1stCallHealth Today
Immunodeficiency disorders can have a significant impact on your health and quality of life.
However, with proper management and care, it’s possible to live a healthy, fulfilling life.
If you’re living with an immunodeficiency disorder, it is important to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional.
At 1stCallHealth, our team can provide personalized care and support to help manage your condition and improve your quality of life.
Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.
1stCallHEALTH provides affordable access to primary care services. We believe that everyone deserves affordable, high quality primary care.
Our vision is to challenge the status quo, focus on the individual, and empower personal control to change the way we think about healthcare.