Most of us have a general idea of what our immune system is—our body’s defense against infections and harmful invaders such as bacteria or viruses.
We may know that white blood cells and our lymph system are somehow involved. And we know that if we get sick a lot, it probably means our immune system has somehow been compromised.
But what exactly is the immune system? And how does it get compromised? What are the disorders and diseases that can develop when it does?
If you tend to catch every virus or bacteria that comes along and have a hard time kicking flus and colds, it may be helpful to understand all this. And then to learn how you can strengthen your immune system to avoid immune system disorders.
What is the Immune System?
Very simply, the immune system is made up of certain cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. A major part of the immune system is the lymphatic system—a network of lymph nodes and vessels that branch throughout the body.
The lymph vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph, which is composed of tissue fluid, waste products and white blood cells that trap outside invaders. White blood cells are made in one of the lymph organs, the bone marrow. Other lymph organs are the spleen and thymus.
What Are Immune System Disorders?
There are three types of immune system disorders:
Immune Deficiency Disorders
Three examples of immune deficiency disorders include:
- Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID): This is a condition that is present at birth, in which a child is in constant danger of infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s sometimes called “bubble boy disease.”
- Temporary Acquired Immune Deficiencies: This can be caused by certain drugs, such as those that treat cancer or those used to prevent organ rejection following an organ implant.
- AIDS: HIV, which causes AIDS, is an acquired viral infection that destroys important white blood cells and weakens the immune system.
Over-active Immune System Disorders
Having an allergic reaction to certain substances in the environment that are normally harmless—such as dust, mold, pollen and particular foods—is generally a sign of an over-active immune system disorder.
This is generally caused by genetic impairments, but can be activated by environmental causes.
Some common conditions caused by an overactive immune system include:
- Asthma: Triggered by a common allergen like dust or pollen or by an irritant like tobacco smoke, asthma can cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
- Eczema: An itchy rash caused by an allergen.
- Allergic Rhinitis: Sneezing, a runny nose, sniffling, and swelling of your nasal passages from indoor allergens like dust and pets or outdoor allergens like pollens or molds.
Autoimmune diseases, in which the body attacks normal, healthy tissues, tend to be more serious than either immune deficiency or over-active immune system disorders. Their cause is unknown, but probably is a combination of genetic impairments and something in the environment that triggers those genes.
Examples of autoimmune diseases include:
Treatment for Immune System Disorders
There are a number of different kinds of treatment for each of these different disorders—medications, supplements, creams. Scientists are constantly coming up with more and more answers for offering relief.
Meanwhile, there are others who are attempting to discover the actual sources of the disorders, besides genetic inheritances. One of the fields being explored recently is that of environmental causes—as well as possible treatments beyond medication.
You can’t do much about the genes you’ve inherited that may bring about an immune system disorder. But you can do something about the environmental stresses you have in your life that may be further weakening your immune system.
Alcohol, Tobacco, Poor Diet & Stress
It’s been shown that if you smoke or drink alcohol, these substances will weaken your immune system. If you’re eating a poor diet, this is not strengthening it either.
Also stress of any kind has been shown to be an important factor in weakening the immune system. This can include mental, emotional and bodily stress. It can also include stresses from the environment.
EMFs Cause Stress
One environmental stress that is being correlated with immune system disorders is the stress of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on the body. Everyone living in today’s world is engulfed in EMFs much of the time, coming from cell phones, cell towers, WiFi, computers, smart meters—and even from electrical appliances and electricity itself.
Because you’re so used to the electromagnetic smog you’re living in, you may not be aware of how much EMFs impact your immune system and cause it to weaken. But there is no way for it to not be impacted.
So what happens in your body when it encounters the EMFs flooding into it? EMFs are perceived by your immune system as outside invaders, and it therefore creates stress hormones that flood your body and stress your nervous system.
To a certain degree, this stress shuts down the flow of blood and oxygen to all except your major organs. Your digestion slows down; and your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels increase, preparing your body for danger.
EMFs do further danger to your body: they push ions out of your cells and interfere with their metabolism—which in turn, causes deficiencies in calcium, lithium and potassium. All of this causes a constant stress in your body—which can create an immune disorder or disease down the road.
Protecting Yourself from EMFs
Just as you can ease up on tobacco and alcohol and begin eating healthier foods, you can also ease up on the EMFs you live around—at least to some degree.
Become aware of the EMF smog in your home and see if you can maybe give up some cell phone and computer time. Keep these devices out of your bedroom at night.
If you can’t figure out a way to do this, consider getting EMF protection for your home or for your personal protection if you’re out in the world a lot, where it’s impossible to avoid WiFi and cell towers.
Many who invest in this kind of protection report that their general health greatly improves—they don’t get the colds and flus they used to get. Their headaches disappear. They feel stronger and healthier than they have in years.
Perhaps immune disorders can’t be avoided if you have certain genes—but it’s relatively easy to cut down on the stress that makes the disorders worse by changing certain aspects of your lifestyle.