Seven symptoms of a weakened immune system
Our immune system acts as a guardian for our body and protects it against harmful environmental forces and is crucial for our survival. This defense system consists of various organs, cells and proteins. In addition to the nervous system, the immune structure is the most complex system in our body. When our immune system works well, we don’t notice it, even though it works around the clock to keep us in optimum health. However, when our immune system is compromised, it cannot protect our bodies at the same high level against invading organisms, and this puts us at risk for infectious diseases, debilitating diseases and even increasing your risk of death. Fortunately, there are signs to look for that could point us to a weakened immune system. Take a moment to see if you have any of the following seven signs and what you can do to better support your immune function.
- Continuous stress
Stress is designed as a fight or flight response to the environment of our ancestors. As a tiger approached, our ancestor’s body would release a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline to prepare our bodies for physical action. This caused certain reactions, including more blood flow to the muscles and shutting down other functions such as the digestive system. Even in our modern lives, these reactions are necessary, for example when we have to brake to prevent an accident. Too often stress about things that are not life or death situations, and this constant form of stress can take its toll on our immune system. When stress hormones are constantly released into the body, they interfere with the natural functions of the immune system, resulting in inflammation, a reduction in white blood cells and a higher susceptibility to infections and tissue destruction.
- Quickly tired
Everyone sometimes depletes themselves, but if you constantly feel exhausted, this may mean that your immune system needs extra support. If your immune system is not functioning efficiently, your body can wear out faster because it fights harmful bacteria and parasites, leaving you tired all day.
- Common cold
Getting a cold from time to time is a part of life for many of us, but when those colds persist, followed by another cold and then another… your immune system literally cries out for extra help. See your immune system as a fortress that keeps invading armies out. However, when the gate of the fort is damaged, it is almost impossible to keep something out. It is the same way with colds and flu. They are always looking for a way to get into it.
We all know the health risks of being overweight, but those extra pounds can be a sign that you have a weakened immune system. When we become obese, our body adds more fatty tissue. Then more cytokines are released from your fat cells, which cause chronic inflammation. Inflammation is your immune system’s response to harmful things in your body, but when your body is constantly inflamed, your immune system becomes overloaded and hinders its ability to fight infection.
- Not enough sun exposure
Unless you are a vampire, it is advisable to get sun exposure for at least 10 – 15 minutes a day. If you are a night hawk, work in an office or keep the curtains closed all day, your immune system may be compromised. Sunlight allows our body to produce vitamin D, which is essential for our well-being, but there is another benefit of catching a few rays. Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center have discovered that sunlight also stimulates T cells, which play an active role in our immune response. So go outside for a few minutes every day and do your immune system a favor. Of course, always use precautions when you go outside and avoid prolonged sun exposure.
- Wounds heal slowly
If you notice that wounds on your skin need more time to heal, a slow immune system may be to blame. A healthy immune system helps improve your skin’s ability to heal by fighting harmful bacteria and reducing the risk of infection, but when your immune system is weakened, healing can take much longer because it cannot fight the infection as it should.
- Often stomach problems
Your intestinal tract has bacteria that are essential for the well-being of your body. When this bacterium is in balance, your immune system is also in balance. If the bacteria of your intestines are not in harmony, your immune system suffers. Diarrhea, nausea and stomach infections are all signs that your immune system may be compromised. It is always good to consult your doctor to see if you have any other symptoms that may indicate evidence of other medical factors.
-“Adipose Tissue Immune Response: Novel Triggers and Consequences for Chronic Inflammatory Conditions” Giorgio Ghigliotti, Chiara Barisione, Silvano Garibaldi, Patrizia Fabbi, Claudio Brunelli, Paolo Spallarossa,Paola Altieri, Gianmarco Rosa, Giovanni Spinella, Domenico Palombo, Razvan Arsenescu, and Violeta Arsenescu
-“Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry” Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller
-Andrews RC, Herlihy O, Livingstone DEW, Andrew R, Walker BR. Abnormal cortisol metabolism and tissue sensitivity to cortisol in patients with glucose intolerance. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(12):5587-5593.
– Sheldon Cohen, Denise Janicki-Deverts, William J. Doyle, Gregory E. Miller, Ellen Frank, Bruce S. Rabin, and Ronald B. Turner. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. PNAS, April 2, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1118355109