Other aspect of the immune system to consider is an underactive immune system, one which has been reduced or damaged in some way. This is called being immunocompromised.
Immunocompromised person are less capable of resisting infections because their immune response is not able to function properly. There are a number of reasons for becoming immunocompromised, including:
- chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer
- taking anti-rejection drugs after an organ transplant
- HIV or AIDS
- genetic disorders
- certain types of cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, that affect immune response cells
- not having a spleen
- chronic diseases – such as end stage renal disease (ESRD) when the person is on dialysis; diabetes; cirrhosis of the liver
- certain medications such as steroids.
Immunocompromised patients are at more risk of illness, and of the illness lingering and being more debilitating than in a healthy person. In the case of not having a spleen, low dose antibiotics are recommended for life; however, with many antibiotic resistant ?super-bugs? on the rise such as MRSA and Shigella, it is important to take steps to not get sick in the first place.
There are many steps you can take to stay safe depending on the reasons for your immune system being compromised. Talk to your doctor about best practices for your condition, and be a ?germophobe?, washing hands often, using disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers, and so on. The latter do not kill every bug, but they are better than nothing if no warm water and soap are available.
You can never be too careful when it comes to germs, in order to stay safe if your immune system is not working at its peak to protect you, so educate yourself about the best ways to stay safe.
Our immune system is complex and finely-tuned, constantly engaged in a delicate balancing act of keeping germs out effectively through the cells, proteins, tissues and organs that form it. Even more important is maintaining it so that it functions correctly and does not over-react to any perceived threat.
Life-threatening diseases such as cancer are terrible, of course, but so is chronic, systemic illness such as diabetes and arthritis, which can drag on for years, and which reduce both quality of life and duration of life as well.
Thanks to modern science, we all have the potential to live longer than ever before. Ironically, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure have reached epidemic proportions in the US. They are on the rise elsewhere in the world when people start to get a taste for the ?American diet? of meat and convenience foods.
Yet it is clear from the Mediterranean diet and Okinawan diet that you can eat well, stay slim, and increase your life span. Italy has one of the most delectable cuisines in the world, and only 9% of their population is obese. The people of Okinawa are the longest-lived, with many people maintaining their health to 100 and even beyond. Small portions of lots of fresh, unprocessed foods, are key.
Now that we have a better understanding of the role of inflammation in chronic illness, we can take steps to reduce it in a number of ways. Diet is the cornerstone of good health and the one most easily controlled in your life when you empower yourself to make smarter choices. You may not like to cook, but if you view food as fuel for your body and medicine for what might ail you, your healthy eating strategies will soon pay off as you gain a stronger immune system to prevent disease.