What is a Compromised Immune System?

Ways To Boost Your Immune System

sick woman blowing nose on couch
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Immunity refers to the body's ability to keep illness away. If you have a strong immune system, then your body is able to keep itself healthy by fighting illness.

Therefore, a compromised immune system means a body that does not have good immunity. With a compromised immune system a body does not have the ability to defend against illness or medical challenges. If you have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or any chronic illness, or if you have an acute illness that seems to last for a long period of time, your body's immune system may be consider compromised.

If you have a compromised immune system (also called immunosuppressed) then you may be at risk of contracting an infectious illness that can make you very sick, or will cause you to die.

Those at High Risk for a Compromised Immune System

The CDC defines high-risk more specifically as adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders; adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV), and residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.

Within patient empowerment, we consider infectious public health problems such as the flu (seasonal flu or H1N1 swine flu) that will require flu shots, or we look at problems with resistant infections, such as those that are hospital acquired, like MRSA, C.Diff, and others. Then we look at possible ways of keeping those problems at bay, to protect someone with a compromised immune system.

Ways to Boost Your Immune System

The best way to protect your immune system is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. General good heath guidelines, like these below, can protect the body from weakening:

  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly, especially before every meal.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get 8-hours sleep each night.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Take steps to avoid infection.
  • Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group.

The Impact of Age on Immunity

As we age we become more susceptible to contracting diseases. And if our immunity is low, we become even more at risk for contracting infections, inflammatory diseases, and cancer.

Many studies have concluded that the population over age 65 is much more likely to contract infectious diseases. In fact, respiratory infections, influenza, and pneumonia are leading causes of death in people over the age of 65 across the globe.

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Harvard Health Publications. How to Boost Your Immune System. www.health.harvard.edu

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