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If the immune system is weakened - causes and help
When it comes to disease prevention, there is always talk of sufficient strengthening of the immune system. And even during the treatment of the disease, it is important to get the immune system back on its feet through appropriate measures, such as proper nutrition or exercise. But why is an immune deficiency (or immune deficit) so dangerous for our health? This guide on the subject clarifies and gives tips on appropriate immune strengthening.
Our immune system
The term immune system is derived from Latin immunis for "untouched" or "pure", which primarily refers to keeping the body clean and protecting it from harmful pathogens. However, it would be wrong to understand the immune defense as a mere column of cleaning or cleaning. In fact, the body's immunological defense function rather resembles a biological military unit, which is composed on the one hand of offensive defense cells and on the other hand of defensive protective barriers consisting of tissue and organ layers.
When healthy, this body's “military staff” relentlessly acts against hostile intruders and makes short work of them. So there is permanent readiness for war on the immune front and that's a good thing. Because every day our body is faced with a series of attacks that endanger its health.
Whether it be infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites that roam every day in public places, in the air or even in your own household or on food, or are free radicals that accumulate in the body unnoticed over a longer period of time - The health risks in everyday life are varied. Stress and poor nutrition can also have a negative impact on physical health. Fortunately, with a well-functioning immune system, there is no need to worry in most cases. Because our immune system is usually equipped with all the necessary means to make pathogens and other troublemakers in the body safe and harmless. In terms of the immune system, there is a rough distinction between two units of the immune response:
- Cellular components - describes all cells that are involved in the immune response,
- Humoral components - describes all body secretions that serve the immune response.
In addition, two different forms of immune defense must be distinguished. On the one hand, there is innate immune defense. It encompasses all natural secretion, skin and mucous membrane functions for body defense, which we were born with from birth and are therefore unchangeable.
In contrast, adaptive immune defense describes specific immune reactions of cells that only arise in the course of contact with certain pathogens. The immune system's defense cells either attack the pathogens directly or cause the immune defense to produce antibodies that carry out the attack in their place.
Any immune response that originates from the innate and adaptive part of the immune system is called the immune response. Inflammatory processes of the skin or mucous membrane, as well as the attacks and synthesis of antibodies that originate from the immune cells, are therefore to be regarded as equivalent as an immunological reaction. A lack of such immune responses characterizes a weakened immune system.
What is immunodeficiency?
From the way the immune system works, it is obvious that an immune deficiency can severely disrupt the highly complex processes in the body's defenses. The immunodeficiency arises when one or more elements in the immunological functional chain can only fulfill their tasks to a limited extent or not at all.
A weakened immune system can express itself either in an acquired or congenital immune defect. The acquired immunodeficiency occurs, for example, in the case of an unhealthy lifestyle or even after an illness that can make the immune system debilitate. This immunodeficiency usually only lasts temporarily, but it makes the body more susceptible to illness for a certain period of time.
The acquired immunodeficiency is countered by the congenital immunodeficiency, which is therefore chronic in nature. There is a lifelong reduced immune defense for those affected, which is why they have to protect themselves particularly well against diseases.
Congenital immunodeficiencies are usually associated with genetic mutations. These either interfere with the course of the immune reaction and thus reduce the body's protection against infectious diseases, or they cause immunological misinterpretations and erroneously cause the immune system to act against the body's own substances. The latter always leads to a chronic autoimmune disease. Numerous allergies are also due to an immune deficiency. Here, disorders in the immune process lead to an excessive defense reaction when coming into contact with certain foreign substances, which, in contrast to pathogens, would actually be harmless.
The most common causes of an immune deficiency are
- Autoimmune diseases,
- Blood and metabolic diseases,
- existing infectious diseases,
- improper nutrition or malnutrition,
- genetic hereditary diseases,
- Effects of pollutants
- and stress.
Weaknesses in the innate immune system
The innate immune defense can be seen as the natural protective wall of our body against diseases. Tissue layers and body secretions present in the body from birth take on the innate barrier function of the immune system. Thanks to their special structure, which makes it difficult for foreign substances to pass through special tissue and secretion properties, they prevent the entry of pathogens into the organism in a variety of ways. In some cases there is also communication between the protective barrier and immunological defense cells. An intelligent and interactive protective wall, which also has its own alarm sensors. The following body organs and secretions are the main components of the innate immune system:
- Skin: The skin layers form the body's external protective barrier and consequently ward off the first frontal attack from pathogens. For example, if skin injuries occur, the skin signals certain cells in the immune system that it is necessary to send wound secretions to the source of the danger. As a result, these immediately flush harmful germs and foreign bodies out of the wound. In addition, the wound secretion is also involved in the reconstruction of the damaged skin barrier. Skin irritation or impaired wound healing can indicate an existing immune deficiency.
- Mucous membranes:
The mucous membranes serve as internal protective barriers for the body. Its task is to keep away pathogens that have overcome the skin barrier or body openings, such as the mouth, and to prevent them from penetrating into deeper tissue layers. For this purpose, the hostile pathogens are bound in mucus and then decomposed by the mucous membrane's own antibodies. If there is a particularly violent rush of pathogens, irritation, redness and swelling of the mucous membrane can occur. This can be observed very well, for example, with a sore throat or throat. Even with an existing immune deficiency, the mucous membranes sometimes swell because they can no longer cope with the pathogens to be overcome.
- Body secretions:
Depending on the type of secretion, the immune response of the body's secretions consists either of pathogen analysis, indirect defense initiation or directly from the decomposition or removal of pathogens. If there is an immunodeficiency, this can be seen from the composition of the body's secretions. For example, there are significant changes in blood serum and lymph fluid, which lead to fewer immune cells than usual in the case of a weakened immune system. This would already be two important body secretions for immune defense. In total, five types of secretions are of particular importance immunologically, namely
- the blood that carries immune cells
- the saliva that produces the mucus needed to bind and decompose pathogens in the mouth and throat,
- Digestive secretions such as stomach acid and bacteria of the intestinal flora, which oppose pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract,
- the urine, which absorbs harmful substances and sends them out of the body,
- and the lymphatic fluid which carries pathogens to the lymph nodes, where the hostile substances are then examined more closely and, if necessary, the defense cell production is initiated.
A weakness of the innate immune system is only innate in rare cases. Acquired immune defects, such as those caused by nutritional errors, occur much more frequently. In the case of weaknesses in the innate immune system, these essentially consist of a deficient supply of nutrients that strengthen the skin protection. Which includes:
- Vitamin A,
- Vitamin B,
- Vitamin C,
- Vitamin E,
- and zinc.
Also not to be underestimated are the effects of pollutants, such as those caused by a high pollution load in the environment. Even in food there are sometimes harmful substances (e.g. spraying agents) that occasionally contribute to autoimmune diseases and allergies. The harmful substances cause an increase in the formation of free radicals and thus oxidative stress, which constantly strains the immune system and gradually weakens it.
Speaking of stress, also inner restlessness, mental stress, pressure to meet deadlines and performance jeopardize the immune system. Above all, the so-called gut-associated immune system, which is located in the very extensive intestinal mucosa, reacts here first to possible stress.
Unfortunately, the number of congenital skin and mucosal defects is also increasing. Especially dermal autoimmune diseases such as neurodermatitis or psoriasis increasingly lead to immune deficiencies. Skin allergies that strain the innate immune system with repeated overreactions to the relevant allergens are also possible triggers.
Immune defects are relatively rare in the area of secretion defense. Nevertheless, they are basically conceivable. In such a case, the cause is usually an impaired secretion production. If gastric acid production is inhibited, stomach ulcers or stomach cancer are often responsible.
Weaknesses in the adaptive immune system
Our immune system does not remain at the same level it was at the time we were born. On the contrary, our resistance has to develop gradually over the course of life, especially in childhood and adolescence. The immune system is therefore dependent on optimizing itself depending on the situation and installing “updates” like a biological operating system. For this purpose, our body's adaptive immune system has various devices that ensure that hostile pathogens are recognized as quickly as possible, examined and then countered with suitable countermeasures. The body's various defense cells are particularly important for this. They are made by the white blood cells, the so-called leukocytes. These are not exactly squeamish when dealing with foreign pathogens.
If a pathogen has overcome the barriers of the innate immune system, consisting of secretions, layers of skin and mucous membranes, this first brings up the phagocytes (macrophages) of the adaptive immune system. As the name suggests, these are immune cells that are designed to track down germs and literally eat them. This is done by the macrophages circling the "enemy" or flowing around them and thus absorbing them before they are broken down by the enzymes in the defense cells. The process is also known as phagocytosis and describes one of the oldest cell mechanisms for the absorption and decomposition of foreign substances. While in the early days of life on our planet it was more used for the uptake of nutrients by unicellular organisms, the adaptive immune system reflects the evolutionary development of phagocytosis towards a body's own defense mechanism for complex life forms such as humans.
Problem with immune deficiency: Immunodeficiency can prevent macrophages from identifying harmful pathogens as efficiently. The activity of the phagocytes in a weakened immune system can also decrease overall, for example due to a reduced production of these immune cells.
The information obtained from the individual parts of the pathogens - for example on the pathogen composition or its surface condition - is also referred to as antigens and is passed on from the phagocytes to the B and T cells of the immune system. The macrophages report, so to speak, a detailed report to their “colleagues” in the immune system and thus trigger a body-wide alarm, similar to a sniffer dog. In this context, B cells (B lymphocytes) are responsible for evaluating the antigen information provided by the macrophages. Based on this analysis, the humoral immune response is initiated in the next step. This means the actual production of specific antibodies for the comprehensive control of pathogens. Said antibodies consist of certain proteins which, depending on the type of pathogen, are put together individually in order to be able to combat it as best as possible.
After the pathogen has been combated, some B cells, the so-called B memory cells, are able to save the blueprint of the antibodies produced and to call them up again when the same pathogen attacks again. In this way, the immune system can react more quickly to an imminent infection and thus better prevent an infectious disease.
Problem with immune deficiency: B cells are the only cells in the whole body that are capable of such a complex task as antibody production, and immune deficiencies also increase the risk of dysfunction in this area. It could therefore be that defective antibodies are produced or even autoantibodies are created which then erroneously act against the body's own tissue. Furthermore, B cells generally only act when they are explicitly called upon by phagocytes. Weaknesses in the immune system therefore harbor the risk of hindering the activation of the immune cells. In addition, a weakened immune system can also lead to the failure of B memory cells, so that antigen information that has already been collected can only be retrieved in part or not at all.
B-cells receive active support in their antigen analysis from the immune's own T-cells (T-lymphocytes). In contrast to B cells, these immune cells take on a whole range of other tasks in the body, such as the fine analysis of the antigens to assess the actual risk potential of a pathogen. Because not all foreign bodies that infiltrate the body are equally dangerous. Too aggressive action could, for example, destroy bacteria that naturally occur in the body, as is the case with the intestinal flora. In order to prevent this, T helper cells independently evaluate the antigen information and exchange their risk assessment with B cells. Depending on the existing risk of pathogens, one of the following T cell types is then activated in the immune system:
- regulatory T cells: suppress an immune response if the foreign body being examined is not a pathogen and the immune status is not endangered by it. This prevents the immune system from being alerted to mere contact with substances such as plant pollen or unusual food additives, and is thus put in a permanent state of emergency that deprives the body of energy.
- Cytotoxic T cells: If there is a real risk of infection, they are released in front of the B cell antibodies and attack threatening pathogens with cell toxins (cytotoxins) in order to promptly ward off the first wave of the infection attack.
Problem with immune deficiency: It is not difficult to see that immune defects can lead to incorrect assessments of the T cells, which on the one hand can mean inadequate pathogen control. On the other hand, in the course of immune deficiencies, the regulatory T cells can often be disproportionately sensitive, which in turn leads to the development of allergies and intolerances. The occurrence of autoimmune diseases cannot be ruled out completely, because if the T cells are misjudged, immune responses based on the incorrect analysis are often directed against internal structures and substances.
Natural killer cells
The cytotoxic T cells belong to a larger group of offensive immune cells known as natural killer cells (NK cells). The name really says it all, because NK cells are used solely to kill pathogens. The attacks by the killer cells are aimed in particular at pathogens that cause damage to the body cells. Like the cytotoxic T cells, all other NK cells are equipped with special cell poisons that kill infected or mutated cells. A natural chemical lobe of our immune system that can sometimes quite radically paralyze entire tissue sections if they suffer from an infection.
Problem with immune deficiency: In some cases, a defective immune system can cause the killer cells to attack healthy cell tissue themselves. The result is dangerous tissue necrosis, which shows not only how aggressive this type of cell is in the event of an accident, but also how dangerous incorrect assessments of a weakened immune system can be for health.
While killer cells primarily fight cell-damaging pathogens, i.e. viruses and cell mutations caused by cancer, granulocytes are responsible for eliminating microbial pathogens. From bacteria to parasites and fungi, these include all living pathogens of infectious diseases.
Another difference to killer cells is that granulocytes have no immunologically active secretions or poisons. The immune response they emanate is therefore purely cellular in nature, but this does not mean that these immune cells are less efficient in combating infections. On the contrary, granulocytes are even capable of multitasking and, if necessary, can take over the task of a phagocyte and, in the event of an emergency, can even recognize pathogens. This is especially true for eosinophilic granulocytes. Certain granulocytes are also involved in wound regeneration. To be more precise, these are the so-called basophilic granulocytes, which use immunological agents such as histamine for immune processes in the case of inflammation at the wound site and thus for targeted wound care of the "marked" focus of inflammation. In the case of neutrophil granulocytes, these immune cells are even part of the innate immune defense and contribute to the ability of the tissue layers to defend themselves.
Problem with immune deficiency: If the granulocytes are affected by an immune deficiency, this in turn can mean impaired wound healing. In addition, as with all other antimicrobial components of the immune system, misalignment against the body's own microorganisms is conceivable. Excessive inflammatory reactions, such as in the case of an allergy, are often associated with defective granulocytes.
As can be seen from the overview above, if the adaptive immune system is weakened, either the immune cells themselves or the antibodies they produce are affected by a defect. If there is an antibody defect, this will most likely lead to an autoimmune disease, which is then attributable to the innate immune deficiencies. Depending on which part of the adaptive immune system is affected, a distinction is made between three variants of the immune defect:
- cellular immunodeficiency - the immune deficiency affects the immune cells,
- humoral immunodeficiency - the immune deficiency affects the antibodies,
- Combined immune deficiency - the immune deficiency affects immune cells and antibodies.
Congenital gene defects are very often the cause of an immune deficiency in adaptive body defense. An example of this is myelodysplastic syndrome. This is a group of inherited bone marrow diseases that lead to disturbed blood formation.
As a result of myelodysplastic syndrome, there is a lack of leukocytes (leukopenia) in the blood of those affected, which logically means a reduced number of immune cells in the immune system. Leukopenia is also typical of a number of other diseases, which are almost exclusively blood disorders. These include, for example
- aplastic anemia,
- and sepsis.
Other diseases affecting the blood are also repeatedly associated with a weakened immune system, particularly in relation to thrombocytosis and diabetes.
Infectious diseases are most often responsible for weaknesses in adaptive immune defense. Basically, every infection triggers a certain immune deficiency, from a mild cold or flu to more severe illnesses, such as those that occur with pneumonia, malaria or typhoid. Because no matter what pathogen it is, fighting the enemy invaders costs the body a lot of strength and after a whole swing of new immune cells to fight infection, the immune system has to regenerate. However, some infectious diseases are much more dangerous to the body's defenses than others, and thus the risk of provoking threatening immune deficiencies is higher.
The AIDS disease, in which human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) nest in the T helper cells of the immune system, is best known in this context. The infection increases the risk of infection to a life-threatening degree and those affected do not usually die from the HIV infection itself, but from a so-called opportunistic infection. This means an infection that is triggered by pathogens that take advantage of the weakened state of the immune system.
There is a very similar danger with chemotherapy. Immune deficiencies are sometimes the main reason why targeted cancer protection must be carried out in cancer patients.
Last but not least, adaptive immune defense, like innate immune defense, can also cause nutritional errors, stress and a special impact of sheep. In addition to sufficient vitamins and minerals, proteins are of particular importance in the area of nutrition. Because the immune cells are made up of protein, which is why a lack of protein can have a massive impact on the functionality of the immune system.
With regard to stress triggers, sleep problems are also greatly underestimated in the case of immune deficiency. If the body does not get enough time to relax, this has serious effects on the defense functions, especially in the area of immune cell and antibody functions.
In addition to oxidative stress, harmful substances in the area of leukocytes occasionally cause damage to the DNA, which can cause malfunctions in the immune cells and, in the worst case, can even trigger autoimmune diseases. In addition to environmental, food and industrial pollutants, harmful substances such as alcohol, nicotine and drugs are worth mentioning as risk factors.
In view of the diverse tasks of our immune system, the conceivable symptoms with existing immune deficiency are relatively extensive. Typical general symptoms of illness are for example
- Exhaustion or fatigue,
- general feeling of sickness,
- To cough,
- Sore throat,
- Respiratory diseases,
- and diarrhea.
At first glance, many of them look like respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases. In fact, diseases such as bronchitis, colds, pneumonia or a gastrointestinal infection are relatively common as a consequence of the immune deficiency. This may be due to the fact that the respiratory tract and digestive tract react particularly sensitively to inconsistencies in the immune system, and that even more so than all other organs. In general, there is an increased risk of infection in a weakened immune system, which may result in an increase in disease.
In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, weaknesses in the innate immune system can also lead to symptoms that indicate a weakened skin barrier or mucous membrane layer. Which includes
- increased tendency to bleed the skin and mucous membranes,
- increased risk of injury,
- Redness of the skin and mucous membranes,
- Skin rash,
- open skin areas,
- Mucosal inflammation
- and swelling of the mucous membrane.
By the way: The herpes virus is known to flare up again in a weakened immune system. After an initial infection, the pathogen remains in the body system for life and uses immune deficiencies to become active again. This is often noticeable through the open corners of the mouth or cold sores.
In the case of very severe immune deficiencies, for example due to genetic mutations, significantly more severe complaints are to be expected; this applies above all to weaknesses which affect the immune cells or antibodies. Serious immune disorders can occur here, which impair the function of the respective immune components. Are conceivable
- allergic reaction,
- Autoimmune reactions,
- Complete failure of the immune system
- and lethal super infections.
On the one hand, an immune defect is diagnosed by the person concerned by observing certain symptoms that indicate a weakened immune system. A medical examination can then reveal more precisely after existing patient questioning (anamnesis) on existing complaints and possible causes.
A very detailed blood test is common, in which, among other things, the leukocyte values are checked. In healthy people there are between 4000 and 8000 leukocytes per microliter of blood in the blood. In contrast, the value is significantly reduced in people with existing immunodeficiency. In addition, other values related to the immune status can also be recorded on the blood picture, for example the number of antibodies, which is determined via the immunoglobulin value (IgG). Certain blood proteins and inflammation parameters also provide information about the immune status of those affected.
As soon as a certain suspicion of possible triggers arises, further investigation measures are conceivable. In the case of a familial accumulation of deficiency weaknesses, for example laboratory genetic tests are indicated. Pregnant women can also have a special amniotic fluid test done to assess the risk of the unborn child developing an innate immune deficiency. In the case of physical illnesses, imaging methods such as ultrasound (sonography), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance imaging (CT) can also help with the clarification.
To successfully treat a weakened immune system, it is important to first get a grip on the underlying disease. This usually happens with suitable medication (e.g. antibiotics for bacterial infectious diseases). In addition, there are other ways to strengthen the immune system again. In almost all cases, they require the individual's own initiative, which shows the importance of private measures to strengthen the immune system.
The recommendation to consume a lot of fruit and vegetables in the case of an existing immune deficiency is no coincidence. Because plant foods contain a particularly large number of nutrients that are important for the immune system. In addition, milk products and fish are important building blocks for an immune-boosting diet because they contain the protein that is essential for the formation of immune cells. Here is a brief overview so that in the future you will know what nutrients are needed when concrete complaints occur:
|nutrient||Function in the immune system|
|Vitamin A||Promotes the formation of new immune cells and the production of antibodies.|
|Vitamin B5||Accelerates the immune response and promotes wound healing.|
|vitamin C||Helps the immune system catch free radicals and lowers the risk of infectious diseases such as colds or flu.|
|Vitamin E.||Also acts as a radical scavenger and supports the renewal of immune and immune cells.|
|iron||Supports the phagocytes in the detection and absorption of pathogens.|
|iodine||Accelerates metabolic and immune processes.|
|selenium||Supports certain enzymes in the immune system to break down free radicals.|
|zinc||Supports antibody production and accelerates the activation of phagocytes in addition to wound healing.|
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also knows certain foods that can strengthen the immune system. Dazu gehören auch Holunder- und Johannisbeeren – zwei Beerensorten, die aufgrund ihres reichen Gehalts an Antioxidantien immunschädigende freie Radikale bekämpfen. Überhaupt sind Beerenfrüchte hierfür eine besondere Empfehlung. Vor allem Aronia, Brombeeren und Heidelbeeren, die wie Schwarze Johannisbeeren aufgrund ihres roten Farbstoffes Anthocyan einen medizinisch hochwertigen Radikalfänger bilden, sollten von Menschen mit bestehender Immunschwäche reichlich verzehrt werden. Um aber zurück zur Traditionellen Chinesischen Medizin zu kommen: Die Lebensmittel, die hier als außergewöhnlich immunstärkend erachtet werden, sind:
- Schwarze Johannisbeeren,
- schwarze Melasse,
- rohes Sauerkraut,
- Shiitake Pilze,
- Sojasaucen wie Tamari und Shoyu.
Tip: Kurzfristig können bei Immunschwächen auch spezielle Nahrungsergänzungsmittel eingenommen werden, welche die Produktion von Abwehrzellen gezielt stimulieren. Denken Sie aber bitte daran, dass Nahrungsergänzungsmittel nie eine Dauerlösung sind und nur zeitlich begrenzt, beziehungsweise unterstützend zu einer gesunden Ernährung Anwendung finden sollten.
Es gibt durchaus eine ganze Reihe an Heilkräutern, die als immunstärkend bekannt sind. Abermals ist hier die fernöstliche Medizin ein wahrer Quell der Gesundheit. Sowohl Ayurveda, als auch die Traditionelle Chinesische Medizin setzen auf eine ganzheitliche Medizin, die in den meisten Fällen eine gezielte Stärkung des Immunsystems miteinbezieht. Die Heilkräuter die dabei als besonders immunstärkend erachtet werden, sind:
- und die Kräutermischung Triphala.
Es gibt auch in der heimischen Naturheilkunde zahlreiche Kräuter, die bei Immunschwächen helfen sollen. Wie asiatische Kräuter werden sie in der Regel als Gesundheitstee zubereitet, der das Immunsystem gezielt von innen heraus stärkt. Bei Kräutern wie Sanddorn, Ingwer oder Holunder überschneiden sich hier die Empfehlungen sogar mit der ayurvedischen Sichtweise und der Traditionellen Chinesischen Medizin, was zeigt, dass die Behandlungsansätze hier gar nicht so verschieden sind und man offenbar länderübergreifend ähnlich gute Ergebnisse in der Anwendung erzielte. Ergänzt wird die Liste der fernöstlichen Heilkräuter bei geschwächtem Immunsystem demnach durch:
- Aloe Vera,
- und Zitrone.
Da ein geschwächtes Immunsystem noch sensibler auf Stressfaktoren reagiert, als es das Immunsystem ohnehin schon tut, ist es wichtig, zur Regeneration der Abwehrfunktion durch ausreichende Schonung und Entspannung beizutragen. Dies beinhaltet zunächst einmal geregelte Schlafzeiten. Stellen Sie sicher, dass ihr Schlafplatz frei von Lärmbelästigung ist und während des Schlafs weder Schadstoffe noch grelles Licht Ihre Erholung beeinträchtigen. Vor dem Schlafen sollte außerdem gut gelüftet werden, damit der Körper in der Ruhephase frischen Sauerstoff tanken kann.
Weitere Maßnahmen zur Entspannung können unter anderem
- Autogenes Training,
- oder Qi-Gong sein.
Das Einplanen von genügend Erholungsphasen in den Alltag ist ebenfalls sehr wichtig. Ein randvoller Terminplan ist deshalb zu vermeiden, ebenso wie hektische Aktivitäten. Bei vorliegender Grunderkrankung verordnen die meisten Ärzte ohnehin Bettruhe.
Sportliche Betätigung zur Abhärtung des Immunsystems kommt nur infrage, wenn der Körper sich nicht von einer strapaziösen Krankheit erholen muss. Ist das nicht der Fall, kann Sport unwahrscheinlich viel zur Immunstärkung beitragen. Dabei sollten Betroffene aber leichte Sportarten wie Fahrradfahren, Schwimmen (nur bei Infektfreiheit!), Gymnastik, Wandern oder Walking ganz klar Extremsportarten vorziehen. Denn eine zu starke Verausgabung könnte dem Immunsystem mehr zusetzen als nützen, insbesondere wenn es sich bei den Sporttreibenden um Neueinsteiger handelt. Empfehlenswert ist, das Sportpensum nur Schritt für Schritt zu steigern und so den Grad der Abhärtung für das Immunsystem stetig zu erhöhen.
Zwei weitere Maßnahmen, die immer wieder gerne im Rahmen der Immunabhärtung durchgeführt werden, sind Wechselduschen und Saunagänge. Das Wechselduschen soll durch extreme Temperaturschwankung das Immunsystem kurzfristig fordern und so dessen Widerstandsfähigkeit verbessern. Ähnlich sieht es auch bei Saunagängen aus, wobei diese abermals nur zu empfehlen sind, sofern keine strapaziöse Grunderkrankung das Immunsystem ohnehin schon stark in Mitleidenschaft gezogen hat. Zum einen sind die Temperaturen in einer Sauna wirklich äußerst extrem, was einem krankheitsbedingt stark geschwächten Immunsystem die letzten Kraftreserven abverlangen könnte. Zum anderen bergen unzureichend auskurierte Infektionserkrankungen bei Saunagängen die Gefahr der Krankheitsübertragung.
Die meisten Behandlungsoptionen sind nur bei erworbenen Immunschwächen hilfreich, zumindest, wenn es um die vollständige Behebung des Defektes geht. Bei angeborenen Immundefekten können die Maßnahmen zwar ebenfalls eine zusätzliche Immunstärkung erzielen, eine vollständige Beendigung des geschwächten Immunstatus erreichen sie hier jedoch nicht. Glücklicherweise gibt es aber auch für Betroffene mit genetisch bedingten Immunschwächen inzwischen Hilfe. Die Stammzellentransplantation kann beschädigte Immunzellen durch gänzlich gesunde ersetzen. Dabei werden die Stammzellen eines gesunden Spenders transplantiert, welche dann die geschwächte Immunabwehr unterstützen und sie zur störungsfreien Funktion anregen. Im weiteren Verlauf reproduziert das Immunsystem vermehrt Duplikate der gesunden Spenderzellen, sodass am Ende nur noch gesunde Abwehrzellen im Immunsystem zirkulieren. Auf diese Weise lassen sich selbst schwere krankheitsbedingte Schwächen des Immunsystems langfristig beheben. (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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- Christoph Raschka, Stephanie Ruf: Sport and Nutrition, Thieme Verlag, 3rd edition, 2017
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