There are three main categories of immune system disorders and diseases:
- Allergies, asthma and atopic disorders
- Immune deficiency, also known as immunodeficiency
Iwould like to help you understand these better and help you know what you can do to boost your immune system and get your body healthy again.
Health Disorders due to an Overactive Immune System
Allergies, asthma and atopic disorders are due to an overactive immune system.
Atopic disorders include:
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and
These are all Type 1 reactions mediated by IgE and all happen within minutes of exposure to the allergen.
Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. Symptoms of eczema included skin redness, itching, dryness and small, red bumps on affected areas. Eczema often occurs along with allergies and asthma. It most commonly occurs in childhood but can persist into adulthood.
Allergies and Allergic Reactions
Allergies such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and allergic reactions to such things as bee stings, dust mites and certain foods (eg. shellfish, wheat and others) are due to an immune system that over-reacts to antigens known as allergens. Antigens and allergens are substances that are foreign to the immune system and are seen as “non-self”.
Allergens are usually harmless unless an immune system has been sensitized to them. When the immune system “sees” these allergens, it goes into a sort of overdrive and over-produces several different classes of substances that end up resulting in the symptoms of allergies. These substances include a specific type of antibody known as IgE.
This specific IgE binds to cells like mast cells, eosinophils and basophils and sensitize them. After this sensitization, when the person is exposed to the allergen, the allergen reacts with the IgE-coated cells and substances like histamine are released.
Histamine—along with several other substances including leukotrienes, prostaglandins, interleukins, interferons and other inflammatory cytokines. This wave of substances is responsible for those allergic symptoms like itching, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing, skin rashes and other symptoms.
Asthma can be triggered by allergens, infections, stress, chemical fumes and exercise. When these triggering substances are breathed in, lung tissue reacts by producing some of the same substances as produced in allergies. These substances cause constriction of bronchioles (small tubes carrying breath in and out of the lungs) —this, in turn, causes shortness of breath, a sense of tightness in the chest, wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing.
Health Disorders Due to Immune Deficiencies
Immune deficiencies can be primary or acquired. Primary immunodeficiencies are genetically passed through the family and acquired (secondary) immunodeficiencies may be genetically associated but occur later in life and are most often caused by drugs, radiation, malnutrition, aging or by other illnesses such as cancer, diabetes or HIV infection.
Immunodeficiencies can be based on a problem in any portion of the immune system. Acquired immunodeficiencies are much more common than primary immunodeficiencies and include HIV/AIDs, some forms of leukemia, viral hepatitis, Di George syndrome and many others.
Symptoms of either primary or acquired immunodeficiencies are increased frequency of infections—most commonly respiratory infections, infections in the mouth, eyes, skin and digestive tract. Having frequent infections is not always a sign of immunodeficiency however—for example, many children in daycare have frequent infections but that is more likely due to repeated exposures and is more likely a sign of a healthy immune response.
Increasingly Common Health Issues Due to Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases are becoming more and more common—these include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome.
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system “turns against” its own tissues. There are many different causes, even sometimes for the same autoimmune disease, but most underlying causes relate back to lifestyle. In general, autoimmune diseases can be caused by infections, environmental toxins, stress, allergies or sensitivities to various foods, dust and pollens.
The Relationship Between Immune Diseases and Inflammation
One unifying characteristic of autoimmune diseases –and immune disorders—is inflammation. Inflammation is a normal process that plays a vital role in destroying invading pathogens. However, in immune diseases, inflammation is out of control.
If you have an immune disorder—or want to do everything you can to minimize the risk of an immune disorder—is there anything you can do? The answer is yes—you can follow dietary approaches that constitute an “anti-inflammatory diet”.
The Dietary Approach to Conquering Immune Disorders
The components of this dietary approach will likely be very familiar to you—these are:
- A diet high in fresh vegetables, fruit and berries.
- Eat fish high in omega-3 essential fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol and soda, and drink at LEAST half your weight in ounces daily.
You can’t control everything, but you can control your diet—and when you do, you are likely to find yourself feeling better, and will have more energy with an increased ability to focus and concentrate better and be more effective in work, life and play.
Remember, YOU have the power to transform your health … ONE healthy choice at a time.
Join Us at the Lasting Immunity Workshop
Date: September 18, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: New Life Chiropractic, Rocklin
Register at www.newlifechiropracticevents.com