8 common signs of a weak immune system
The immune system is a natural defense mechanism of the human body that protects against harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Although it functions well in healthy individuals, it may fail to work at times, making them more vulnerable to infections and illnesses. Additionally, an overactive immune system can result in autoimmune conditions like psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. Therefore, one must look for signs of a weak immune system to ensure necessary treatment.
Common signs of a weak immune system
According to American Psychological Association, when an individual goes through long periods of stress, it can adversely affect their immune system. This is because, as stress levels in the body increase, it leads to a simultaneous decrease in lymphocytes – white blood cells ( WBC) that aid in the fight against infections.
Although this may seem harmless, this decrease in WBCs can cause one to be at an increased risk for virus or bacteria-related issues such as the common cold.
Besides this, chronic stress or frequent episodes of stress can worsen autoimmune conditions like ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Most people can be affected by the common cold 2-3 times a year. In such cases, these individuals may bounce back to normalcy in a week or a maximum of 10 days. During this time, the immune system produces antibodies to fight off the infection and continue body functions normally.
But if one is catching colds frequently or has a persistent cold that does not get better after running its course, these could be signs of a weak immune system.
In such cases, it’s considered best to seek immediate medical attention to ascertain the underlying cause and go through the needed treatment.
Slow healing wounds
A clear indicator of a weak immune system is slow healing wounds. Normally, when the body experiences wounds or burns, it automatically initiates damage control by sending nutrients, immune cells, blood, and oxygen to the affected area to promote skin regeneration.
However, in the case of a weak immune system, the health of the immune cells is compromised, leading to lingering wounds that can take a long time to heal completely.
Frequent stomach issues like gas, constipation, and diarrhea could indicate a weakened immune system, especially if these problems last longer than 2 -4 weeks, which could harm the inner lining of the digestive tract or small intestine.
Moreover, research shows that almost 70% of the body’s immune system originates in the digestive tract. Here exist gut and immune systems defending beneficial microorganisms, whose reduction can leave one at risk for complications – chronic inflammation, viruses, and even autoimmune disorders.
Most people can experience bouts of fatigue after exertion. But in the case of a weak immune system, the patient can notice tiredness even after getting adequate sleep. This occurs due to the struggles faced by the immune system, which requires most of the body’s energy.
But this leaves the other cells with almost no nutrition or energy, leading to a constant sluggish feeling or fatigue that does not seem to get better.
In addition to this fatigue, patients can also have muscle aches and increased discomfort.
Sometimes when the body goes through chronic inflammation, particularly in the blood vessels, one can notice a sudden withdrawal of warmth in the toes, fingers, nose, and ears. When this happens, one can observe the whiteness of the skin in the affected areas. Further, if one is exposed to cold weather, the skin can turn blue. Nevertheless, once the blood flow to the affected area is restored, the color of the skin should return to red.
Some of the main causes of cold hands are artery-affecting diseases ( peripheral artery disease), lupus (autoimmune disorder), and hyperthyroidism.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, if an individual experiences frequent infections, it could be an indication of a weak immune system, particularly if the individual experiences the following:
More than 2 – 3 bacterial sinusitis episodes in a year
More than 4 ear infections a year
Pneumonia twice within 1 year
If one has to frequently seek the expertise of doctors to fight off infection-causing microorganisms, it may indicate that one’s immune system is compromised and not functioning at its optimal level.
Recurrence of mild fevers and cold sores
Generally, the virus that causes cold sores is from the herpes virus family. This means if one has been infected by the virus once, it can stay inside the body in a dormant state. But in cases where one has increased stress or weak immunity, the virus may reactivate. Then, if left unattended, it can even replicate, leading to increased discomfort.
Additionally, one must not ignore higher body temperatures than normal as it could indicate underlying issues like an overactive immune system. This can occur due to a number of factors, including an impending infection or a flare-up of an autoimmune disease.
In addition to the signs of a weak immune system mentioned above, one can look out for increased mucus production, persistent cough, headaches, joint aches, patchy hair loss, and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. In case any of these symptoms are noticed, one must consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This way, one can diagnose the underlying issue in the early stages and seek essential treatment.
It is important to take proactive measures to boost the immune system, regardless of the specific health concern one may be facing. Some effective steps that one can take to strengthen the immune system include:
Eating Vitamin C rich foods – bell peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes
Getting at least 10 to 15 minutes of full-spectrum Vitamin D-rich sunlight every day
Getting adequate sleep – 7 to 8 hours
Developing stress management techniques – breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness