What Is Immune system disorders?
Our immune system comprises a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs, which together work to fight against germs and keeps the body safe from their attacks. The immune system keeps the pathogens out or finds and destroys them.
When your immune system cannot do all this and cannot protect the body, it means that you are suffering from an immune disorder. Immune system disorders cause the immune system to be either overactive or underactive. Immune disorders include:
Asthma and allergy: These are immune responses to some substances which are not very dangerous.
Immune deficiency diseases: These are disorders where one or more parts of the immune system are missing. These decrease the ability of your body to fight pathogens and make the body susceptible to infections.
Autoimmune diseases: Here the immune system is overactive and the body attacks and damages its own cells and tissues. The immune system produces antibodies in response to some unknown trigger and instead of fighting the infection, the antibodies start attacking the tissues of your body. Some examples of autoimmune diseases are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: The joints are attacked by the immune system causing swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus): Affects the lungs, blood cells, joints, nerves, and kidneys usually.
- Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD: The lining of the intestines is attacked by the immune system. The 2 major forms of IBD are:
- Multiple sclerosis or MS: The nerve cells of the body are attacked by the immune system causing weakness, pain, poor coordination, blindness and muscle spasms.
- Psoriasis: Immune system causes skin cells to reproduce very fast producing scaly, silver-colored plaques on the skin.
- Type-I diabetes mellitus: The antibodies produced by the immune system attack and destroy the cell that produces insulin in the pancreas.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland.
- Guillain-Barre syndrome: The nerves controlling the muscles, arms and upper body are attacked by the immune system.
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP): The immune system attacks the nerves.
- Myasthenia gravis: The antibodies produced by the body bind themselves to the nerves and affect the working of the muscles.
- Graves’ disease: The antibodies produced by the immune system stimulate the thyroid gland to produce excess thyroid hormone.
- Vasculitis: Immune system attacks and destroys the blood vessels.
What Are The Symptoms Of Immune system disorders?
The symptoms of immune system disorders are:
- Increased frequency of infections, which occur more frequently, are longer lasting and are more difficult to treat than with a person having a normal immune system.
- Getting infections that a person with a healthy immune system would not get (opportunistic infections).
Some common symptoms of primary immune system disorders are:
- Frequent and repeated sinus infection, ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, skin infections and meningitis.
- Loss of weight.
- Digestive issues like loss of appetite, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, etc.
- Infection and inflammation of the internal organs.
- Blood disorders like anemia and low platelet count.
- Delayed development and growth.
- An autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis, type-I diabetes, lupus, etc.
- Mouth sores and chronic gum disease,
- Bacterial infections leading to pus-filled sores.
- Large warts (caused by viruses).
- Fevers and chills.
- Abdominal pain due to enlargement of spleen or liver.
What Are The Causes Of Immune system disorders?
Several of the primary immune system disorders are inherited problems in the DNA. Immune system disorders can be classified into 6 main groups based on the part of the immune system that has been affected:
- T-cell deficiencies
- B-cell or antibody deficiencies
- Combination of T- and B-cell deficiencies
- Complement deficiencies
- Defective phagocytes
- Unknown (idiopathic)
There are 2 types of immune system disorders:
Primary immunodeficiency disorders, which are mainly caused due to mutations in a particular gene and primary immune disorders are classified according to the part of the immune system that is involved.
Secondary immune disorders are those that result from:
- Any prolonged or serious disease like cancer or diabetes.
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- People who are hospitalized or older people.
- People who take immunosuppressants for some autoimmune disorder.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Immune system disorders?
- Following good personal and dental hygiene can help to reduce the risk of getting infections and immune disorders.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- When you sneeze or a cough, do it with your mouth covered with a tissue and sneeze and cough into your elbow rather than your hand.
- Treat all the cuts, wounds, etc by washing and bandaging.
- Practice safe sex and do not share needles, etc. as this can help to prevent the risk of infection.
- Controlling blood sugar levels can help the white blood cells to work better and hence prevent infections.
- Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help to prevent infections, build the immune system and reduce the risk of immune disorders.
- Sleep well as this helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Take vaccinations that can prevent infections.
- Exercise is a great and fun way to build your immune system and fight off colds and other ailments. When you do moderate exercise, the body circulates the cells that help to build the immunity of the body, which kills the viruses and bacteria. So, it is a good idea to follow a regular exercise routine.
- Several infections can be prevented by vaccination. So, keep your family and you vaccinated as per the recommended immunization schedule.
- Foods can be a source of infection. Make sure that you wash all the vegetables, fruits, poultry, meat properly and cook them well before serving.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Immune system disorders?
- Avoid eating undercooked or raw food or drinking contaminated water, as this can cause infection and reduce immunity.
- Avoid contact with those who have infections.
What Are The Best Foods For Immune system disorders?
- Probiotics not only help to keep the digestive system healthy, studies reveal that they also help to strengthen the immune system. You can take probiotics in the form of supplements or eat foods that contain probiotics like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir, etc.
- Vitamin D plays a very important role in fighting diseases and keeping them away. The best way to get vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Apart from this eating fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, etc. can provide the body with vitamin D.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like nuts, olives, olive oil, avocados, seafood, etc. help to reduce inflammation and help the symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Taking omega-3 supplements can also be helpful.
- The antioxidants in green tea and herbal teas can help to strengthen the immune system.
What Are The Worst Foods For Immune system disorders?
- Avoid refined sugar and sugary foods and beverages as sugar weakens your immune system and leaves it vulnerable to various diseases. Avoid sugary foods and drinks likes cakes, pastries, ice creams, cola, energy drinks, candy, jellies, etc.
- Avoid processed and junk food like French fries, chips, burgers, hamburgers, low-fat and gluten-free packaged foods, etc. as these are loaded with sugar, preservatives, and additives and are the main contributors to autoimmune diseases.
- Avoid foods like eggs, corn, soy, dairy, legumes, grains and particularly foods that contain gluten, as it triggers the release of zonulin, a chemical that is highly inflammatory and causes immune system disorders.
- Avoid foods that belong to the nightshade family such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and goji berries, as these increase inflammation and worsen the condition of immune system disorders such as joint pain.
- Avoid foods like soy, wheat, and milk, as these foods have been associated with worsening type-I diabetes. Instead choose pasture-raised, organic meats like lamb and turkey, Alaskan salmon, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Immune system disorders?
What Are The Tips To Manage Immune system disorders?
- Stress can hamper your immune system and weaken it. Stress causes inflammation in the body. When you are stressed, the body produces cortisol, the stress hormone that increases the blood sugar and blood pressure levels, which lead to a weakened immune system. Keep your stress levels in check by using stress-relieving techniques like meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massages and taking up hobbies.
- It is recommended that you should breastfeed your infant when they are developing their immune system. This helps to reduce the risk of autoimmune disorders later in life.
- Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily as they kill the healthy bacteria in your gut and increases your risk of exposure to harmful pathogens.