The immune system helps protect the body from harmful pathogens and other environmental risks. It prevents various infectious and debilitating diseases. However, if a person’s immune system is weak, they are more at risk of various illnesses, including certain serious illnesses.
The immune system may be weakened by smoking, drinking alcohol, poor nutrition, stress, obesity, aging, medical conditions (such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, recent serious infections), or medication (such as steroids, chemotherapy drugs).
9 Signs of a weak immune system
9 Possible signs of a weak immune system include:
- Frequent cold and other infections: It is normal for adults to have two to three episodes of a cold or infection a year and recover in seven to 10 days. Those with a weak immune system tend to have frequent episodes and may take longer to recover.
- Digestive problems: Many scientists believe the root cause of most diseases is a weak digestive system. Signs and symptoms of a weak immune system and digestive symptoms include frequent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc.
- Delayed wound healing: If the immune system is weak, wounds take longer to heal following inflammation, trauma, or surgery, and increase the risk of infection.
- Easy fatigability: It is normal to feel tired after a long day. Those with a weakened immune system tend to feel tired or fatigued constantly despite taking adequate rest.
- Skin infections: The skin is the first barrier of the body. A weak immune system can damage the skin barrier, resulting in frequent skin rashes, inflammation, infection, or dry skin.
- Autoimmune diseases: In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. When the immune system is weak, there is overactivity or abnormally low activity of the immune system. If the immune system is overactive, it increases the risk of autoimmune diseases.
- Delayed growth and development: Weakened immunity may result in delayed growth and development in children.
- Blood disorder and blood cancer: Some blood disorders indicate a weak immune system, such as anemia, hemophilia (bleeding disorder), blood clots, and blood cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma).
- Organ inflammation: Organ inflammation can weaken the body’s immune system. Organ inflammation could happen due to injury, toxins, pathogens, trauma, heat, etc. Any injury to the body tissues that result in inflammation is a sign of a weakened immune system.
13 Tips to strengthen the immune system
- Stress management: Managing stress plays an important role in the body’s immune health and is often overlooked. When people are psychologically stressed for a long time, there is an increase in the levels of a hormone called cortisol.
- Cortisol, at increased levels, suppresses the cells of the immune system. Thus, increased stress decreases the body’s ability to fight infections.
- Exercise: Vigorous exercise can increase cortisol levels and suppress immunity. However, exercising in moderation can boost immunity. If a person has a busy schedule, exercising in moderation for three hours a week is sufficient to improve immunity.
- Adequate sleep: Getting adequate sleep can help boost immunity.
- Adequate rest improves mood and reduces stress.
- Adults require an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a day.
- Adequate hydration: Staying hydrated does not directly boost the immune system but improves overall health.
- Drinking plenty of fluids ensures the smooth function of the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, heart, and other organ systems.
- Fluids also help maintain healthy skin.
- Diet: Maintaining a healthy diet can help the immune system to be healthy.
- Whole plant foods: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
- Antioxidants decrease inflammation and reduce free radicals.
- Fruits and vegetables: They are rich in nutrients, such as
- vitamin C, which may reduce the duration and frequency of the common cold and other infections.
- Plant foods rich in fiber help maintain a healthy gut by sustaining healthy gut bacteria.
- Healthy gut bacteria: They prevent harmful microorganisms from entering the body through the gut.
- Spices: Clove, oregano, cinnamon, and cumin contain
- Replace bad fats with good fats: Eliminating fats completely from the diet as a part of weight loss is not recommended. Fats are essential to fuel the body.
- Healthy fats reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
- Healthy fats are found in vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
- Omega-3 fatty acids present in seafood and fish oil are also good fats, which can also be taken as supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids also improve memory and improve the health of skin, hair, and nails.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are rich in healthy gut bacteria.
- Healthy gut bacteria protect from illness by keeping harmful microorganisms from entering the body through the gut.
- Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt.
- Probiotics can also be taken as supplements.
- Nutritional supplements: Zinc, folate, iron, selenium, copper, and vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12 are beneficial as supplements if they are lacking in the diet.
- Medical treatment: Medical treatment may be required for those who have a weakened system due to other medical conditions (such as diabetes or HIV) or medication.
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
WebMD. 16 Symptoms of Immune System Problems. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/immune-system-disorders
Medline Plus. Aging changes in immunity. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004008.htm
Top What Are the Signs of a Weak Immune System? Related Articles
Can a Weak Immune System Cause Cancer?Your immune system plays a vital role in maintaining your health. Although some cancers are caused by genetic mutations, some other factors like old age and a weakened immune system can also play a significant role in causing the disease.
Can Dermabond Be Used on Open Wounds?The tissue adhesive, Dermabond, can be used as an alternative for 5-0 or smaller sutures to close wounds. It can be used to close wounds on the face, extremities and torso. The doctor may prefer Dermabond over sutures depending on their level of comfort and experience.
Chronic Fatigue QuizExhausted all the time? Maybe it's not all in the mind. Take the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Quiz to learn more about tricky condition.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts 6 months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Common ColdThe common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and maybe a fever. Antibiotics have no effect upon the common cold, and there is no evidence that zinc and vitamin C are effective treatments.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Puncture WoundsLearn about first aid for cuts, scrapes (abrasions), and puncture wounds, when to see a doctor, if tetanus shots are necessary, and how to spot signs of infection.
Digestive Disorders: Worst Foods for DigestionDiscover which foods to avoid in order to prevent diarrhea and digestive problems. Find out which foods can trigger diarrhea and other digestive problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn and more.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
Fatigue can be described in various ways. Sometimes fatigue is described as feeling a lack of energy and motivation (both mental and physical). The causes of fatigue are generally related to a variety of conditions or diseases, for example, anemia, mono, medications, sleep problems, cancer, anxiety, heart disease, and drug abuse.Treatment of fatigue is generally directed toward the condition or disease that is causing the fatigue.
First Aid: Bandaging Injuries and Wounds From Head to ToeBandaging a wound like a burn, cut, or scrape requires different techniques depending on which part of the body was hurt. Ace bandages, liquid bandages, bandage wraps, waterproof bandages, elastic bandages, and other types are available to cover and protect your wound from dirt and water.
Fungal Skin Infections: Types, Symptoms, and TreatmentFungal skin infections and fungal nail infections produce symptoms like red, itchy, circular rashes and thick, discolored, flaky nails. Fungal infection treatment may involve topical medication or oral antifungals.
How Long Do Babies Have Their Mother's Immune System?Babies can enjoy extended protection from their mother's immune systems for a great deal longer if they are breastfed.
16 Immune Boosting FoodsHelp fight colds, flu, as well as viruses like coronavirus with foods that boost and improve your immune system. Reach for bright-colored antioxidant and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables such berries, broccoli, garlic, ginger, tea and more for vibrant health.
Is Your Immune System Stronger After COVID-19?A robust immune system protects you from getting sick following exposure to germs and viruses. Yes, recovering from COVID-19 makes your immune system stronger.
What Is Microsporidiosis?Microsporidiosis is an infection caused by the microsporidia parasite. The disease is uncommon in people with normal immune systems. Symptoms in people with immune deficiency include diarrhea, malabsorption, gallbladder disease, cough, labored breathing, urinary tract infection, bowel perforation and keratoconjunctivitis. Microsporidiosis treatment depends on the site of infection and the species of microsporidia involved.
How to Differentiate Between the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19, Allergies, Cold, and Flu?Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without the need for intensive or special treatment. Serious illness is more likely in elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.