How strong or weak is your immune system? If your initial thought is some iteration of: Well, I'm not sure, you may not be alone. It can be difficult to know if your body's natural defenses are in peak operating mode unless you get sick.
Your immune system is a defense mechanism of your body that protects you from various kinds of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. Most young and healthy people have a decent immune system, but it may not always protect them from illness.
In case your immune system is weakened, you may face minor to major health issues. Your immune system guards you against any infection. If you have a weak immune system, you are more likely to get frequent allergies, rashes, etc.
Here are few ways to tell how your immune system is working and what you can do to help it out.
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1. Are You Tired or Fatigued?
If you feel tired even after a full night's sleep, then there is a problem. Exhaustion after sleep is not normal, and it should be taken seriously. Your immune system leaves an impact on your energy levels.
"Fatigue can be a sign of low immunity, especially when a person is undergoing a lot of physical or psychological stress," says Dr. Charles-Davies, founder of 25 Doctors, a health information site. "Stress is a proven immunosuppressant," says Dr. Lili Barsky. "Stress can increase our susceptibilities to any infection."
Dr. Gerry Curatola, a wellness expert and founder of Rejuvenation Health, recommends "incorporating yoga poses for deep relaxation and to help reset your autonomic nervous system and restore your immune system as well." Deepak Chopra™, M.D. recommends keeping a regular meditation practice in the morning and evening to help stimulate the immune system.
(Yoga Nidra Meditation, also known as yogic sleep, is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. Independent studies have shown an hour of Yoga Nidra can be as restorative as four hours of regular sleep.)
2. Are You Catching Colds?
Though we've all been dealing with COVID in 2020 and now into 2021, the common cold is still active. By June 2021, the cases of rhinovirus were increasing. “The most obvious reason for that would be people are interacting more and getting together,” Dr. Abisola Olulade, MD, a San Diego-based physician, said, via Refinery 29. “It makes sense, the fact that people are going out and about again, kids are in school, they’re going to play dates.”
The Mayo Clinic list 5 risk factors that can increase your risk of getting cold:
Age - Infants and young children are at greatest risk of colds, especially if they spend time in child care settings.
Weakened Immune System - Having a chronic illness or otherwise weakened immune system increases your risk.
Time of the Year - Both children and adults are more likely to get colds in fall and winter, but you can get a cold anytime.
Smoking - You're more likely to catch a cold and to have more-severe colds if you smoke or are around secondhand smoke.
Exposure - If you're around crowds, such as at school or on an airplane, you're likely to be exposed to viruses that cause colds.
So, how to you prevent or keep it happening in the first place? Harvard Health notes that there are several basic and effective methods that can help you avoid colds altogether. These are really obvious, but obviously not practiced enough.
Stay home when you’re sick (and keep your kids home when they’re sick, too). Yup, the first step in prevention is to not go out when you’re spewing viral particles, and that will help prevent other people’s infections. Can’t get time off of work? Stay far away from others, sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and wash your hands to avoid contaminating surfaces.
Wash, wash, wash your hands. Seriously, this is not an old wives’ tale. Handwashing is incredibly well-studied and extremely effective. The trick is, you have to wash your hands correctly. The CDC has a tutorial video on this. I’ll break it down for you: Soap up. Lather well. Scrub while singing “Wash, wash, wash the germs, gently down the drain, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, This is such a pain.” Now rinse. Then dry, and use the paper towel to open the door. That doorknob is infested with germs. No towel? Use your sleeve.
Don’t touch your face. It only takes a few virus particles to infiltrate your mucous membranes and make you sick. What are mucous membranes? The soft, moist, folds of your eyes (don’t rub your eyes!), nose (don’t pick your nose!) and mouth (don’t bite your nails/pick your teeth/lick your fingers!).
3. When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Doctor?
If your answer is anything over a year, then pick up your phone and make an appointment. Regular check-ups, especially those with chronic problems are essential to your overall health. The C.W. Williams Community Health Center, Inc. a non-profit health center in the Charlotte, NC area notes that though there isn't a one size fits all answer, generally it is recommended that a healthy adult should see the doctor once a year. Those with chronic problems, health conditions and/or family history should see a doctor more often.
Getting routine blood tests, like a complete blood count (CBC), is an easy and very common test that screens for certain disorders that can affect your health. A CBC determines if there are any increases or decreases in your blood cell counts. Normal values vary depending on your age and your gender. Your lab report will tell you the normal value range for your age and gender. A CBC can help diagnose a broad range of conditions, from anemia and infection to cancer.
Whether you visit a new or your regular physician, or see a healthcare provider virtually online, make a appointment today!
4. You Have Slow Healing Wounds
According to Nadia Hasan, DO from Penn Medicine, your skin goes into damage control mode after you get a burn, cut or scrape. Your body works to protect the wound by sending nutrient-rich blood to the injury to help regenerate new skin.
This healing process depends on healthy immune cells. But if your immune system is sluggish, your skin can’t regenerate. Instead, your wounds linger and have a hard time healing.
5. You Have Ongoing Digestive Issues
If your digestive system issues are ongoing, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor (see number 2)."Research is finding more and more links between immunity and gut flora," nutritionist Lisa Richards creator of the Candida Diet. "It’s no surprise that a weakened immune system is often seen at the same time as chronic digestive problems."
Do you have ongoing issues with bloating, gas, or constipation? If so, "it’s typically a sign that something isn’t right in your gut," she says. "We now know that about 70 percent of your immune system tissue is located in your digestive tract. These digestive symptoms can be a sign that your immune system is misfiring, which could leave you vulnerable to infections, autoimmune disorders, or chronic inflammation."
There are many ways you can boost your immune system all by yourself. Start by eating well, stop smoking, exercise regularly like doing yoga, start meditating, reduce alcohol intake and get adequate sleep. You might also want to look into possible underlying health conditions, by visiting your doctor and getting a checkup.
Remember, your immune system is the key to good health, and the more you can do to protect it the better your overall health will be.