What is the immune system?

The immune system is your body’s defense against diseases. It’s a set of processes and structures that protect the body from infections and foreign bodies that are harmful to it.

If your immune system is working adequately. it will distinguish bacteria, viruses, and parasites from its own healthy tissue.

There are many components to your immune system which include, lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, lymphocytes, thymus, and leukocytes. Each one of them handles a specific task to fight disease.

Signs of a Weak Immune System

At least 80 illnesses are caused by immune system deficiencies, and they all may cause inflammation. Below you will find a list of signs that may indicate a weak immune system, but beware that only your doctor can diagnose these accurately, so ask him about any of these if you are concerned.

  • Cold hands: If your hands, feet, and nose are often cold and turn white or blue, it may be a sign that your blood vessels are inflamed and blood doesn’t easily reach them. In medicine, this is called Raynaud’s phenomenon. It may also be caused by smoking and prescription drugs, so check with a doctor.
  • Diarrhea and Constipation: Diarrhea that lasts more than two weeks may be considered as a sign of a problem with the immune system. Other possible causes include bacteria, viruses, and other health conditions.
  • Fatigue: If you are feeling tired despite getting enough sleep and/or your muscles ache your immune system may be failing.
  • Headaches: You could be experiencing a condition related to your immune system, such as vasculitis which is inflammation of a blood vessel.
  • Joint pain: If they are tender to touch, swollen or stiff (especially in the morning).
  • Chronic sinus infections and other infections such as ear infections more than four times a year.
  • Weight change: Both gaining weight and losing it unexplainably may indicate damage to your thyroid gland and a sign of a weak immune system.

Other signs include rashes, hair loss, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, yellow or white skin patches, yellow eyes, and trouble swallowing. Contact your doctor if you have any of the abovementioned.

Things You Can Do to Boost Your Immune System

A healthy lifestyle is what will boost your immune system, and here are a couple of tips that help. Eating certain foods may help boost your immune system. These include the following:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Red bell peppers
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli

Getting enough sleep is important to keep your immune system in check, as well as exercising regularly, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation and cooking meats thoroughly. Washing your hands often is also important to keep yourself healthy, and minimizing stress.

Supplements such as vitamins and minerals are important to stay healthy. Certain supplements such as herbs have not yet been proven to help the immune system, so stick to the recommendations from above.

Image by silviarita from Pixabay.