What To Know About A Compromised Immune System?

What To Know About A Compromised Immune System?
6 Apr 2022
9 mins
Table Of Content
What To Know About A Compromised Immune System?

    A well-working immune system protects us from invading disease-causing microbes. White blood cells are the key players of the immune system. People with a compromised immune system have a lesser ability to fight off infections and other diseases. Some people are born with a weakened immune system, while others acquire immune deficiencies through disorders or medications used in their treatment. Let’s look into the causes of a compromised immune system and its symptoms. 


    What Could Be The Causes Of A Compromised Immune System?


    Diseases - Causes Of A Compromised Immune System:


    The major group that falls into this category are autoimmune disorders. Normally, the immune system can sense the difference between foreign cells (bacteria, viruses) and own body cells and attack the invaders. But in autoimmune disorders, your immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. The common autoimmune disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and lupus. 


    HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) infection and its advanced stage acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) can destroy the CD4+ T cells, the important white blood cells involved in the immune function and make people vulnerable to infections and disorders such as cancer.


    Sometimes,  a person in birth may have certain conditions in which part of the body’s immune system is missing or doesn’t function properly. Those conditions are due to hereditary genetic defects and are called primary immune deficiency. An example of a primary immune deficiency is SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency). 


    Cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia are white blood cell diseases. They decrease the healthy white blood cells which are essential to respond to infections. A buildup of cancer cells can also affect the spleen, the important organ involved in the immune response. Other diseases such as sickle cell disease and conditions caused by an overactive immune system such as asthma are causes of a compromised immune system. 


    Therapies That Are Causes Of A Compromised Immune System:


    Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can cause low white blood cell counts and increase the risk of infections. Based on the type of drugs given, duration and dose of the treatment, person’s age, and stage of cancer, the degree of immunosuppression varies.  


    In the case of autoimmune disorders, immunosuppressant medications are given to prevent the attack of healthy cells and the impact of the disease. Besides suppressing the unfavorable reaction, they weaken the immune system.


    Some examples of immunosuppressant drugs that can cause a weakened immune system:

    • Prednisolone
    • Tofacitinib
    • Cyclosporine
    • Everolimus
    • Leflunomide
    • Basiliximab 


    Organ Or Bone Marrow Transplantation: 


    When you get a transplant, your body knows that the new organ is not originally part of your body and attacks the organ to destroy it. To lower the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ, immune suppressing drugs are used at the time of transplant as well as a maintenance drug for the long term. These medications are also called anti-rejection drugs. 


    People are more vulnerable to infections in the initial weeks after a bone marrow transplant because they don’t have many white blood cells. Also, total body irradiation is sometimes used during a bone marrow transplant which is likely to cause very low white blood cell counts. 


    Age Can Weaken The Immune System:


    One of the changes that happen with aging is weak immune function. As people age, they have lesser immune cells, including white blood cells and the ones that they do have don’t communicate with each other as well. People may also become less responsive to vaccinations. Adopting the right diet and exercise may help an individual maintain healthy immunity into older age.




    Cigarette smoke contains many chemical compounds that can harm the immune system and make your body less successful at fighting diseases. It also makes smokers more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. It decreases the antioxidant levels in the bloodstream, including vitamin C levels. Vitamin C is highly important for immune system function. 




    Essential minerals and vitamins in the daily diet are vital to boost immunity and healthy development. Lack of vital nutrients can impair the formation and activity of immune cells and antibodies. Chronic mental stress, lack of sleep, and excess weight can also depress our immune system. 


    6 Symptoms To Watch If You Might Have A Compromised Immune System:


    Frequent Infections


    American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests the below conditions may indicate a suppressed immune system. 

    • Needing more than 4 courses of antibiotic treatment per year in children or more than 2 times per year in adults
    • Having pneumonia more than once
    • Having more than 4 new ear infections per year (after four years of age)
    • Chronic sinus infections 


    Stomach Problems


    The larger part of the immunity-boosting tissues is located in the digestive tract. Hard bowel movements or diarrhea that lasts more than two to four weeks could be a sign of a compromised immune system. A slow immune system can also cause gas or acidity.


    Extreme Tiredness


    If you are feeling constantly tired even after a good sleep, it could be a sign of a compromised immune system. You may also experience pain in the joints or muscles.


    Frequent Cold


    It is very usual to have 2 or 3 episodes of colds every year, and people generally get better in eight or ten days. But, having colds often that last over ten days could be due to problems in the immune system. 


    Slow Healing Of Wounds


    The immune system plays a crucial role in the wound healing process. A weak immune system can slow skin regeneration, resulting in delayed healing of wounds. It may also occur due to other factors such as poor nutrition or obesity. 


    Dry Eyes


    People with autoimmune disorders experience dry eyes. They may also notice redness, pain or blurred vision. 


    The other compromised immune system symptoms include fever, rashes, chills, and swelling around the joints. 


    What An Immunocompromised Person Should Be Aware Of:


    People with a compromised immune system can lead productive lives. If you are diagnosed with immune deficiency, avoid visiting places such as hospitals and nursing homes which makes you easily infected. Wear a mask while traveling on flights, visiting a physician, or relative with chronic infections as it can reduce your exposure to germs. 


    Diets high in fruits and vegetables are good for healthy immune function. But they may carry microbes that would make an immunocompromised person sick. Completely cook these items and eat. Manage stress and get good sleep each night.


    Written by
    GuruvigneshwariContent Writer
    AboutM.Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy)