Immunity And Chronic Diseases

  • 3 mins read
  • Health Conditions
  • Immunity
  • Dr. Pramod Mane

In recent times, we have heard the word ‘chronic diseases’ everywhere. All thanks to our lifestyle. Chronic diseases are diseases that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Thus, they are considered to be serious public health problems. It is said that our immune system is linked with these chronic diseases.

 

Over the past 2 decades, more and more research suggests that any alteration in our immune system is related to many chronic diseases, including depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Let’s find out how chronic diseases and immunity are related to each other.

Immunity and depression

Whenever you or your family member has an infection, you know how it feels to be sick. Our behaviour changes drastically. We often feel feverish and nauseated, ignore food and beverages, and lose interest in our physical and social environments. We feel tired and our sleep patterns are also disturbed. But more than that, we also feel depressed and irritable. Yes, alteration in our immune system due to infections can cause depression.

Immunity and obesity

Have you ever thought that obesity could affect your immune system? Research has shown that obesity is responsible for an impaired immune response or function, thereby increasing the risk of various infections.

Immunity and type 2 diabetes

We know that as a chronic condition, diabetes tends to increase the risk of several other diseases. But if you have diabetes, then you are more susceptible to infections. There have been high incidences of tuberculosis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin and soft tissue infections in people with diabetes. Also, the outcome of treatment in diabetic patients is poor.

Immunity and hypertension

When it comes to chronic diseases, how can we not mention hypertension or high blood pressure? It is well known that the immune system also contributes to this disease. When you catch an infection, your immune system gets activated to fight it; persistent activation may increase your blood pressure and eventually cause heart failure, stroke, and chronic kidney disease.

Immunity and cancer

The relation between immunity and cancer goes a long way. Cancer is a chronic disease that changes our immune system as a whole. Cells that once protected your body begin to interfere with the normal way your immune system works.

Having a chronic disease can weaken your immunity, or in certain conditions, a compromised immune system can predispose you to chronic disorders. Thus, it is essential to break this vicious cycle and strengthen your immunity.

References:

  1. Bagatini MD, et al. Immune system and chronic diseases. J Immunol Res. 2017;2017:4284327.
  2. Bagatini MD, et al. Immune system and chronic diseases 2018. J Immunol Res. 2018;2018:8653572.
  3. Rubinow KB, et al. In immune defense: redefining the role of the immune system in chronic disease. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017;19(1):19-26.
  4. Dantzer R, et al. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(1):46-56.
  5. Milner JJ, et al. The impact of obesity on the immune response to infection. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012;71(2):298-306.
  6. Berbudi A, et al. Type 2 diabetes and its impact on the immune system. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2020;16(5):442-449.
  7. Lopez Gelston CA, et al. Recent advances in immunity and hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2017;30(7):643-52.
  8. Hiam-Galvez KJ, et al. Systemic immunity in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2021:1-15.
  9. Why people with cancer are more likely to get infections. Available from: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/low-blood-counts/infections/why-people-with-cancer-are-at-risk.html. Accessed on 23 April 2021.

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