Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against illnesses. It protects you from harmful viruses, bacteria, and pathogens that can make you sick.
A lot of factors play a role in keeping your immunity healthy. That includes adequate sleep, stress management, nutritious foods, and physical activity.
Sometimes, your immune system isn’t working as it should. When that happens, you’re at an increased risk of becoming ill, with anything from the common cold to worse.
That’s why it’s up to you to recognize the signs of a weak immune system. When you know what to look for, you’ll know it’s time to see your doctor or take steps to improve your immunity.
Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “do I have a weak immune system?” Here are some warning signs to be on the lookout for.
1. Recurring Colds
Most people suffer from one or two colds each year. But if you can’t seem to shake the symptoms or they keep recurring, your immune system may need a boost.
More than three colds should be cause for alarm. Symptoms that last more than 10 days also tell you something is going on.
2. Digestive Disturbances
Another telltale sign of a weak immune system is ongoing digestive issues. That includes constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
Approximately 70 percent of your immune system is found in your gut. So it makes sense that if things are off there, you’re going to feel it in your digestion.
It’s normal to feel tired after a late night or a stressful day at work. However, chronic fatigue isn’t normal and could indicate an issue with your immunity.
If you’re getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and are still feeling tired all the time, it’s time to see your doctor.
4. Frequent Infections
One of the main jobs of your immune system is to fight off infections. So if they keep occurring, something is going on.
Infections can happen in many parts of the body. The most common are skin infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, and meningitis, as well as sinus infections and urinary tract infections.
However, you may also experience autoimmunity, blood disorders, and general inflammation.
5. Slow Wound Healing
When you are injured, your immune system is responsible for healing and regenerating new skin at the site. Most minor scrapes, cuts, and burns heal in about five days.
If healing is slow, chances are you have a weak immune system. Slow-healing wounds are more susceptible to infection so it’s important to address the issue right away.
6. Increased Stress
Stress and immunity have a cyclical relationship. Stress can reduce healthy immunity, but a weakened immune system contributes to higher levels of stress.
You may notice that you get sick more often during periods of prolonged stress. One of the best immune system tips offered by health professionals is to practice stress management. More on that below.
7. Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
Another indicator that your immunity may be suffering (even if you don’t have any other symptoms) is consistent poor lifestyle choices.
An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise contribute to a range of health problems. You can assume that if you haven’t been eating right and getting enough activity, that your immune system may be weakened.
How to Strengthen Your Immune System
Now that you know more about the signs of a weak immune system, you’re ready to learn how to counteract the problem and ensure that your immunity is as healthy as it can be.
Simply being aware of what might be causing the issue is the first step in deciding what to do about it. You may be able to figure this out on your own, but seeing a doctor can help you get to the root of the problem.
One of the best ways to boost immunity is to control stress. Stress management reduces cortisol levels so that your body can fight infection and keep immune cells healthy and functioning properly.
Moderate exercise is also important. The average person should get about 30 minutes on most days of the week. Walking, swimming, yoga, hiking, and team sports are all terrific choices.
Getting enough sleep also boosts immunity. As mentioned above, the average adult needs 7 to 9 hours every night. If you are consistently lacking in shut-eye, see your doctor about how to get more.
A healthy diet that contains foods from each food group is also a vital step you can take to protect your health. A strong immune system relies on vitamins and minerals that come from the foods you eat.
Whole plant foods are especially important. Be sure you’re eating lots of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Probiotics are also important as they promote a healthy gut. As we learned earlier, a large portion of your immune system resides in your digestive tract. Get probiotics from yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods.
If you feel that your diet may be lacking, talk to your doctor about a supplement that can help fill in the gaps in your nutrient intake.
What to Do if You Have Signs of a Weak Immune System
You’ve read about how to prevent the signs of a weak immune system. But what should you do if they occur?
Regardless of your health habits (good or bad), you won’t always feel 100 percent healthy. Even with a strong immune system, you’re still going to get sick from time to time.
However, if you notice prolonged signs that your immunity may be off, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. That way you can rule out anything serious, such as cancer or heart disease.
Once you’ve determined what’s going on, you can use the advice above to take the proper steps to strengthen your immunity.
Staying Healthy and Happy
So many lifestyle choices play a role in your overall health. One way to stay on top of it is to be aware of the signs of a weak immune system. For most people, the problem passes fairly quickly with a bit of intervention.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to protect your immunity. The choices you make to boost your immune system also ensure good health throughout the rest of your body so it’s a win-win.
We’re here to help. Have a look at our wellness programs and get ready to live the healthy life you crave.