You should know that the immune system works around the year, preventing pathogens such as viruses or bacteria from ruining your day. But do you know the warning signs of a weakening immune system?
What are the signs of a strong immune system?
You’re rarely sick
The most obvious sign of having a good immune system is that you’re hardly ever sick, staving off colds and other infections with ease. Even if you do get sick and catch the bug going around the office, you’ll notice that your symptoms will be milder and shorter than your colleagues’.
Another sign of a robust immune system is a surplus of energy. While most immune systems are capable of fighting off infections, this doesn’t mean that all immune systems are equal. A healthy immune system will be able to effectively clear out invading pathogens, creating less of an energy burden on the body, making you feel less fatigued.
What are the signs of a weak or weakening immune system?
Cold Hands and Feet
A weakened immune system can often result in systemic inflammation. This is especially pronounced in the blood vessels in your extremities, such as your fingers, toes, and ears. Reduced blood flow due to inflammation can make these regions susceptible to feeling cold. This is often referred to as “Reynaud’s phenomenon.”
Constipation or diarrhea over an extended period of time could be a warning sign that your immune system may be harming or forcing your digestive system to slow down. With possible causes from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, bowel issues are usually a good indicator of immune health.
If you feel constantly tired, like you do when you have the flu, could signal that something is wrong with your immune system. When adequate sleep and proper nutrition is failing to address the fatigue, it could mean that your immune system is using a lot more energy than a healthy immune system to fight off an infection.
If you find yourself constantly running a mild fever, it’s a telltale sign that your immune system is constantly being overworked.
Headaches are often caused by local inflammation of blood vessels in your head. This could result from an infection or autoimmune disorder.
Your skin is your first barrier against the germ-filled environment. As a result, how your skin looks and feels is often a reflection of how your immune system is doing. Dry, itchy skin, or rashes are common symptoms of inflammation. Frequent rashes or one that fails to clear up after a few days can be a sign of deeper underlying issues with the immune system.
Joint Pains and Aching
The lymph system is tied to the movement of your muscles and joints. If your joints start to ache and feel stiff or swollen, it could be a sign of congestion in your lymphatic system due to immune system activity.
If you find yourself picking up every bug going around the office, or are constantly dealing with a cold or sore throat, this is a clear sign that your immune system is weakened. If you’re taking antibiotics multiple times a year just to cope with your illnesses, this is a red flag that your immune system is incapable of attacking foreign organisms as well as it should.
Having a hard time getting food down your throat could mean that your esophagus could be swollen from inflammation due to an airborne disease.
Slowly Healing Injuries
The immune system also plays a critical role in healing injuries such as bruises and cuts. If you find that you take an abnormally long time in healing from such injuries, it could be a sign that your body is having a hard time fighting off bacteria that got into the affected area.
Anemia or Lightheadedness
If your immune system is compromised or off balance, it can sometimes mistake healthy blood cells for foreign invaders. When this happens, the immune system works quickly to attack and destroy red blood cells, leading to a feeling of weakness, anemia, and lightheadedness.
What are the factors that damage or compromise the immune system?
While there are specific diseases and conditions that systematically destroy your immune system, like cancer and HIV. These are more serious conditions that your physician should be able to detect through your yearly check up. If you are suffering from one or more of the signs listed above, the following factors could be weakening your immune system.
Alcohol damages the body and can destroy or weaken the antibodies required for fighting off illness. It can also cause dehydration or nutritional deficiencies which harms immunity. Research has shown that an episode of binge drinking can weaken the immune system for several days.
Smoking and Secondhand Smoke Exposure
While smoking has been associated with respiratory illnesses for a long time now, it has also been shown to cause inflammation in the body. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can weaken the immune system, leading to an elevated risk for respiratory infections.
Inadequate Sunlight Exposure
Soaking up the sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D. Vitamin D primes our disease fighting T-cells for optimal function.
Stress has been shown to affect your immune system. Elevated stress levels increases cortisol production, a hormone that has been shown to affect your immune, digestive, and reproductive systems.
Lack of Personal Hygiene
Poor personal maintenance exposes you to more germs which can cause illness. Washing your hands regularly, showering daily, and proper dental hygiene all reduce the risk of getting infections.
Lack of Sleep
The immune system requires a minimum amount of energy in order to function properly. When the amount of sleep is inadequate, your body is unable to repair and restore itself properly, leaving you more vulnerable to illnesses.
Lack of Physical Activity
Regular exercise has been proven to strengthen your immune system, no surprise there. That being said, don’t push it to the limit in the gym, recent studies have shown that strenuous exercise can actually suppress the activity of your immune system until your body recovers.
Your body filters a ton of toxins out everyday. Drinking plenty of water helps this process by increasing the movement in your lymphatic system.
How can you improve your immune system?
The answer is fairly obvious, you can simply address the factors we just discussed. This includes getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, staying properly hydrated, and getting enough sleep. You can also boost the strength of your immune system by supplementing your diet with yeast beta glucan. Studies have shown yeast beta glucan has the potential to modulate the cells of the immune system, making them more capable of fighting off the ever present threat of foreign pathogens like bacteria and viruses.