Your immune system works hard to keep you healthy. You already know that there are things that can cause your immune system to have to difficulty working well.
But it might surprise you to know that there are five common issues that can really wreak havoc on how well your body can function in keeping illness and disease at bay.
Loneliness is one of the more common reasons that your immune system can become depleted, but most people don’t realize it’s a contributing factor. When it comes to this, most people think of loneliness as not having someone to socialize with.
But loneliness can mean that you feel sad or isolated. It can also mean that you feel like you don’t have a single person that you can truly connect with and it can make you feel anxious.
What happens then is people tend to withdraw and become even more isolated, which in turn makes the loneliness an ongoing situation. When you experience loneliness, it can prevent your immune system from working the way that it should.
As a result, you can end up getting sick more often or battling diseases that can strike at any time. Your body has both a sympathetic and a parasympathetic nervous system and loneliness can cause your body to stop creating protection for you that you would normally have.
You won’t be able to fight off viruses or other illnesses as well – if at all. The anxiety that you experience due to the loneliness can make you feel unsafe, which leads to more worry and more loneliness.
When you experience loneliness, your nervous system works to kick the infection fighting cells into high gear. It’s part of the body’s survival instinct. This is okay if it’s not something that happens often or long term, so you won’t experience any issues.
However, when you battle loneliness on a continual basis, then what happens is these infection fighting cells are linked to the development of inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s Disease or diabetes.
Fortunately, loneliness is something that you have the power to change. One of the triggers for loneliness is social isolation. This isn’t something that happens only to the elderly.
You can experience it at any age. But since it’s a contributing factor to chronic health issues, you’ll want to deal with it – and there are several ways that you can do that and boost your immune system.
Stop social isolation by getting involved in something. Join an organization that puts you around people on a regular basis. When you’re busy, you’ll see that loneliness isn’t as big of an issue if at all in your life.
Become a volunteer. There are so many places that could use your help. Hospitals need volunteers, food programs are always looking for people to help them, and schools need tutors to help students.
You can volunteer with community programs, for blood drives, for fundraisers, with homebuilding organizations, with pet rescue programs. The list of places where you can volunteer is quite extensive.
As a result of volunteering, not only will you find that the loneliness is gone, but that you’ll feel better about yourself. Being needed is the perfect salve for feeling unwanted or neglected.
An image of a human body immune systems chart.
Stress is something that everyone’s going to encounter. It means that you’ve experienced feelings of worry, anger, anxiety or tension because of something you’re dealing with.
Most people tend to think stress is something everyone has to endure. While it’s true that stress is a part of life, it does have the potential to deplete your immune system and can make you sick and even chronically ill if you don’t learn how to get it under control.
Stress affects your immune system because it can cause your body to overproduce cortisol. This overproduction of cortisol has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and a compromised immune system because your body can’t withstand the onslaught of high cortisol levels.
When the cortisol levels remain high in your body, your immune system can’t keep up the defense, which in turn allows you to become sick with viruses and inflammatory health problems.
Some doctors believe that stress has a direct link to an autoimmune diagnosis. When you’re not under stress, the job of cortisol is to keep inflammation at bay. But when you are stressed, because there’s so much cortisol, your body becomes accustomed to it and doesn’t react.
Because your immune system still tried to fight, what it does in its weakened state is to produce inflammatory responses. What happens then is your body starts to create antibodies against its own organs or cells.
As a result, you can end up developing something like arthritis or a number of other autoimmune conditions. When your immune system is depleted by stress and it turns on itself, you can develop conditions that if left untreated, can lead to an early death.
If antibodies are created that destroy the thyroid, the adrenal cells or other parts of the body, this can happen over time and you can’t survive without your thyroid or your adrenal glands.
There are ways that you can stop stress from depleting your immune system. Make sure that you eat healthy and exercise. Exercising releases feel good chemicals that fight stress and the effects of stress.
Meditate, use deep breathing techniques, or get involved with yoga. Spend time doing things that relax you – such as a hobby. Spend time with a pet. One of the health benefits of having a pet is reduced stress.
Plus, having a pet can lower your blood pressure, which is a by-product of stress. If you can’t own one, you might be able to volunteer at a shelter working with animals.
High Blood Sugar
Because high blood sugar can go undetected in the body, a lot of people aren’t even aware that they have an issue with higher than normal readings. But high blood sugar can quickly deplete your immune system and there’s a reason behind this.
When your blood sugar is high, it causes a reaction within the body. Everyone has molecules and when your body is healthy with normal blood sugar, your molecules don’t impact your immune system.
But high blood sugar causes a reaction in the molecules that prods them to fight against your immune system. These culprits are caused by high glucose levels and they can leave your body wide open to virus infections, bacterial infections, chronic health conditions and even premature death.
When your blood sugar is high, it impedes your immune system to the point that it doesn’t have enough strength. If you get cut when your blood sugar is normal, you’ll notice the healing process takes place over a matter of days.
But with high blood sugar, this process can take weeks and even months for a simple cut to heal. The high blood sugar causes damage to occur in your organs because it damages cells.
Some of these cells are present within your immune system and damaged cells just can’t keep you healthy. Normally, your immune system sends cells to fight infections.
But if the cells themselves are damaged, the infections win that battle. High blood sugar levels cause the cells of your immune system to become ineffective against invading infections and you’ll find yourself in a constant struggle to get healthy.
When you have high glucose levels, infections are boosted by the glucose. For example, you normally have certain types of bacteria in the mouth and in the intestinal tract.
But when the blood sugar levels are too high, it causes these bacteria go grow rapidly, become abundant and overtake an area. There are ways that you can combat high blood sugar to keep your immune system healthy.
You have to eat a balanced diet that’s low in carbs. Having too many carbs can keep your sugar levels elevated, especially if they’re simple carbs. Maintain a regular exercise regimen.
When you exercise, it helps your body be less resistant to insulin, which helps control your blood sugar levels. If you have trouble with high blood sugar and you can’t control it through diet and exercise, then you need to get on medications that can keep the glucose from building up in your bloodstream and harming your immune system.
When it comes to watching out for the immune system and making sure that it stays healthy, most people don’t think of how medications can hurt it. There are many different health conditions that doctors will prescribe steroids for during the course of treatment.
They’re used to treat things such as asthma, reactions to things like poison ivy or other skin irritants, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. Some medications like steroids that are known to deplete the immune system won’t have an effect if you don’t use it long term.
This is one of the reasons that steroids are meant for use for a short period of time only. If you have to be on a medication like steroids for months, then it will deplete your immune system and leave you at risk for infections and illnesses.
This is because steroids work by suppressing the immune system. This effectively leaves you without any line of defense. How much of the medication that you have to take matters, too.
Smaller doses of medications aren’t as hard on your immune system as higher doses are, which means that your risk will be smaller. This is true whether the dosage that you take is in oral or cream form.
Drugs that are used to treat GERD can also cause your immune system to be depleted. This is because these medications work to keep your body from producing stomach acid, which elevates your chances of getting sick.
Your immune system uses stomach acid in the fight against illness. When the stomach acid can’t be produced, it leaves you open to sickness. If you have high cholesterol and you take medications to lower it, this can also affect your immune system.
Obviously, there are certain medical conditions that are going to require treatment. But if you’re faced with taking a medication that can disrupt your immune system, you’ll want to make a different choice.
You can ask the doctor if there’s a different medication that won’t affect your immune system. If you have any health conditions currently that already weaken your system, it’s important to do this.
You can also ask for a lower dosage or for a shorter use time. If there is no medication that you can take without hurting your immune system and you’re going to need long term use, you can see if there’s a natural remedy.
If you’ve ever dealt with insomnia, you know how annoying it can be. But you might not know that when you struggle to get the right amount of sleep, it can have an unpleasant effect on your immune system.
Without sleep, your immune system becomes weaker and unable to fight off infections and illness the way that it used to. There are immediate responses in your body when you lose sleep.
Just like when you get physically sick and you see a rise in your white blood cell count, you have the exact same reaction in your body when you don’t get enough sleep.
You’ll end up feeling sick and run down as a result because your cells are affected. When you lose sleep, your body starts producing more cortisol, which is the stress hormone.
With the rise in the stress hormone, you’ll experience anxiety, troubles with your digestive system, greater risk of heart related diseases, high blood pressure, greater risk of developing diabetes, and a higher risk for chronic diseases.
Because insomnia can have such devastating effects on your health, you’ll want to take steps to remedy the condition as soon as possible. Stay away from anything that stimulates your brain right before you go to sleep.
This would be things like being on a computer, or watching television. Use window darkening curtains if you have any light shining into your bedroom and if possible, make sure that you don’t have any light on in your home where you can see it.
If you do happen to wake up in the middle of the night, don’t check a clock. If you know how much time you have left to sleep before you have to get up, this can make you feel stressed and pressured to get back to sleep, which only makes the insomnia worse.
Don’t let your bedroom get too warm. This can contribute to insomnia. Your body temperature goes down at night as part of a sleep cycle and when you keep it cooler in your room, it helps you sleep.
Have your melatonin level checked and if you’re low on this, raising it can help you get to sleep. Look for natural remedies too that are known to help. This would be things like warm milk or natural herbs.
Knowing what habits and environmental hazards can take a toll on your immune system is the first step in getting healthy. Take each one and tweak your lifestyle to see if you can improve on your immune system.
The stronger it gets, the harder it is for anything to compromise it, and you’ll stay healthier and happier for longer periods of time!