How to stay healthy when you have a weak immune system?

This article was written by doctors of Internal Oncology Department, Vinmec Times City International General Hospital.

The immune system is essential for life. Without an immune system, the body will be easily attacked by bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. The immune system keeps us healthy when exposed to pathogens. The immune system is present throughout the body and involves many types of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues.

1. Weak immune system

The immune system protects the body from disease and infection throughout life. However, some people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to illness and disease and infections. People with cancer undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy… also often have weak immune systems.

White blood cells, antibodies and lymph nodes, make up the body’s immune system. Many disorders can weaken the immune system and leave a person immunocompromised. Immunodeficiency disorders that are present at birth or due to environmental factors, including:

  • HIV
  • Some cancers
  • Malnutrition
  • Hepatitis
  • Certain medical treatments.

2. Symptoms of a weak immune system

The main symptom of a weak immune system is an increased susceptibility to illness and infection. A person with a weakened immune system is more likely to get illnesses and infections than others, and these illnesses will be more severe or more difficult to treat.

Diseases that people with weakened immune systems often get sick and infected with include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Illnesses and skin infections.

These diseases recur with high frequency.

Other symptoms of a weak immune system may include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Organ inflammation
  • Blood disorders or abnormalities, such as anemia
  • Digestive problems, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea and stomach cramps
  • Growth retardation in infants and young children.

3. Tips to stay healthy when you have a weak immune system

People with weakened immune systems can take several steps to optimize healthy lives and avoid disease and infection.

First: Good hygiene

One of the easiest ways for a person with a weak immune system to stay healthy is to clean and wash their hands often. You should wash your hands at the following times:

  • Before, during and after meal preparation
  • Before eating
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing.

Before and after treating a cut or other open wound

  • After coming into contact with an unwell person
  • After using or helping a child use the bathroom
  • After changing diapers
  • After touching an animal or its food or waste
  • After touching the garbage.

Proper hand washing significantly reduces illness. Hand washing reduces cases of infectious diarrhea by 58% in people with weakened immune systems. Washing hands with soap and water can help protect children and reduce the number of deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea in children under 5 years of age.

Second: Avoid contact with sick people

People with weakened immune systems should avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or illness and infection. Viruses and other infectious diseases can be spread from person to person through close contact. They can also be spread in the steam when coughing or sneezing.

It is not always possible to avoid sick people. However, a person with a weakened immune system should avoid close contact, such as hugging or kissing someone who is sick. They also need to avoid sharing food and drink with those people.

Tuesday: Disinfect household items

Disease-causing germs can live on the surfaces of certain items in the home, such as doorknobs and remote controls. A person can reduce the number of germs by disinfecting regularly.

Wednesday: Follow your doctor’s advice about vaccines

Most people should get vaccinated periodically. However, a person with a weakened immune system or compromised immune system should delay or not receive the injection. The person can be vaccinated when the disease has resolved or has stopped treatment.

Examples of vaccines that doctors may recommend delaying or avoiding include:

  • MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella
  • Live flu vaccine
  • MMRV vaccine, which combines the MMR vaccine with the chickenpox vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine

People with weakened immune systems should check with their doctor which vaccines are safe for them and then follow their recommendations.

Thursday: Manage stress

Stress can weaken the immune system and make a person more susceptible to illness. People with weakened immune systems should take steps to manage stress. Some methods that can reduce and manage stress include: Yoga; Meditation; Massage; Spend time pursuing hobbies…

Friday: Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep has the same effect on the body’s immune system as stress. Lack of sleep disrupts the production of white blood cells, which are important components of the body’s immune system. Adults should sleep at least 7 hours a day, while babies and children need between 8 and 17 hours of sleep depending on age.

Saturday: Healthy diet

A healthy, balanced diet can improve everyone’s health. People with weakened immune systems need a diet rich in vegetables and fruits to provide a variety of nutrients.

For example, if a person is immunocompromised because of cancer treatment, foodborne illnesses should be avoided by:

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before peeling
  • Avoid undercooked meat, fish and eggs
  • Timely cooling of food
  • Choose pasteurized milk, juice

Eighth: Regular exercise

Regular exercise keeps the body healthy. In addition to strengthening the body, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that reduce stress levels. However, people with weakened immune systems should be careful not to exercise too hard as this can further weaken the immune system.

Therefore, people with weak immune systems should avoid exercise:

  • At too high a intensity
  • Regular
  • For long periods without stopping to rest

Ninth: Consider taking supplements

Certain vitamins and minerals affect the immune system. For example, a person with vitamin C deficiency may have weakened immunity. Other vitamins and minerals that can affect immune function include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Folic Acid
  • Zinc.

It’s best to get these nutrients from food sources if possible, but multivitamins bought in health stores can also be used.

The immune system is a complex system of blood cells and organs, and it protects the body from pathogens. If a person finds themselves frequently sick and infected, they may have a weak immune system.

A person with a weakened immune system can take several steps at home to keep themselves healthy and maximize their immune function.

4. AIET. Autologous Immunotherapy

When the body’s immune system is not working properly, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation cannot effectively kill cancer cells. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the immune system, activate the cells to perform the task of recognizing and attacking cancer cells. From there, can increase the effectiveness of treatment for surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiotherapy… Immunotherapy itself – AEIT (autologous immunological enhancement therapy) is a solution that meets the requirements this.

The principle of AEIT therapy is to separate immune cells from the patient’s peripheral blood, selectively culture them in a special medium to increase the number of immune cells, and then transfer these cells back into the body. the patient’s own body. This therapy can use many different types of immune cells such as: Natural Killer cells (NK), cytotoxic T cells (CTL)…

Currently, autologous immune cell therapy is performed in combination with traditional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. Recently, there have been many scientific publications in the world showing that the combination of autologous immune cell transplantation with thermotherapy also significantly increases the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Autologous immunotherapy combined with low-dose heat and chemotherapy has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of advanced cancer in patients already resistant to traditional cancer therapies.

Since October 2018, the Ministry of Health has licensed the application of Natural Immune System Therapy at Vinmec Times City Hospital – the first place in Vietnam to apply this method in treatment.

For direct consultation, please dial HOTLINE or register online HERE. Download the exclusive MyVinmec app for faster scheduling, more convenient calendar tracking!

Source: Medscape 2019

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