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Are You Immunocompromised?

Due to current pandemonium, I see the elderly cutting out all activities outside of the home. After talking to them, it seems like they are all on the same page. They have been told that because they are old, they have a bad immune system. Boy that message is irrational and misleading.

I write this to tear those people from the grasp of the now-raging fire of fear. Age is not the determinant of a strong or weak immune system. The best question to ask those that are worried about their immune system is this: how many times and how severely have you been sick in the past few months? The immune system is not your lungs. The immune system is not your heart. The immune system is its own separate system. Yes, it depends on and is intermingled with the other body systems (as all body systems are), but it is still its own.

Whether you struggle with asthma, have diabetes, have cardiovascular disease, have sleep apnea, or allergies, that does not lend as much evidence of your immune system health compared to how often and severely you have been sick recently. I hear people using their other problems to create panic about getting sick now. And I can hear the critics already saying, “Well, if you have all those problems, statistically, you’re more likely to die from coronavirus.” Yes, true. The more accurate message is that the healthier you are, the less this (or any) bug will pose a risk because your general health is broadly associated with your immune system condition. Still, the condition of your immune system will be the most important determinant of your susceptibility.

So those that are elderly, those that have had health issues, and those that are exposed to less sanitary environments should rest assured that if they have been well for a while, they will be creating more health issues by worrying and cutting out all activity due to coronavirus than the virus is a health issue itself. And certainly continue those outside activities that INCREASE health! Exceptions would be those that have an exorbitant amount of stress in their life like those undergoing chemotherapy, having surgery, using drugs excessively, or starting a new job. Another exception would be those taking immunosuppressing drugs obviously.

And of course, all those that are immunocompromised should avoid extra contact with others as always.

One extra thing… for those with weak immune systems, how will they recover their immune function? The same way someone with weak muscles would… by stressing their system. Bodybuilders lift weights to grow their muscles as should immunocompromised people progressively expose themselves to less sanitary conditions as their immune system successfully copes, therefore grows. Just like a beginner lifter wouldn’t start by putting 400 lbs on the bar and going wild, or wouldn’t increase weight after failing at lighter weights, those with weaker immune systems should progressively increase their exposure to others as their immune system recovers from previous exposures/sicknesses.

Yes, getting sick makes your immune system stronger, so long as you let your body overcome the sickness, not by taking a bunch of drugs to kill the bug or to excessively dampen your immune reaction. Going through a sickness should be a strengthening process! You want your body to do the work. If you’re sick, give your body what it needs to fight and grow. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a gallon of water a day, only eat if you’re hungry, take plenty of Vitamins A, C, and D, and get lots of rest. Swearing off germs is like avoiding working out… staying weak is not the answer.

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