Staying healthy is a challenge for most people. But it can be especially difficult for those with primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD). PIDD are disorders that impair immune system function. These diseases can make you more likely to get infections and other illnesses.
While the specific symptoms you might experience will vary depending on which type of PIID you have, many people find that adopting a healthy lifestyle can help them better manage their condition.
If you have PIDD, you must be aware of your symptoms and take steps to prevent infections. The following tips can help PIDD patients stay healthy and keep their immune systems functioning at their best.
1. Get Enough Sleep
The human body needs sleep to repair itself and restore energy levels after a day’s activities. Sleep deprivation can make it harder for your immune system to fight off germs and viruses that cause infections.
Getting enough sleep is essential for everyone, but it’s especially critical for people with primary immunodeficiency diseases because they’re already at an increased risk of infections and poor wound healing.
Try going to bed earlier each evening, so you get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If that’s not possible, take short power naps during the day instead of skipping sleep altogether. Try not to nap for longer than 20 minutes at a time because this can interfere with nighttime sleep as well as daytime performance.
2. Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated
A healthy diet helps boost the immune system. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins such as fish, eggs, and beans. Avoid red meat, fried foods, and junk food. If you’re not sure what foods are good for your particular condition, talk to your doctor or dietitian about nutrition for your specific type of PIDD.
Drinking enough water is also one of the best ways to stay healthy. It helps your body fight off germs and viruses before they cause illness. Water also helps flush out toxins from cells in the body. Drink water throughout the day, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking again. You should also avoid alcohol or sugary drinks, which can make you dehydrated.
3. Take Your Medications
If you have a primary immunodeficiency disease, it’s crucial to take the specialty medicine prescribed by your doctor to treat underlying conditions and prevent complications.
You may need to take many different daily drugs to replace the antibodies, proteins, and other substances your immune system normally produces. Your doctor will work with you to find the right combination of medications that help keep your immune system working properly.
4. Tame Your Stress
Reduce stress levels whenever possible. Stress can make it harder for your immune system to work properly because stress hormones release chemicals that suppress the immune system’s activity.
You may not be able to control all of your stressors at work or home, but there are things you can do to help manage them. Try deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night because of anxiety, try relaxing before bedtime by reading or listening to music.
5. Increase Physical Activity
Regular exercise helps keep your body strong and improves overall health by lowering stress levels and enhancing sleep quality. The type of exercise that’s best for you will depend on your condition and overall health goals.
Some people may be able to do high-impact exercises like running, while others might need gentler activities such as swimming or yoga classes. You should always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it’s safe for you.
6. Avoid Crowds
Crowds are breeding grounds for viruses, bacteria, and other infections. If possible, stay away from large gatherings of people, such as concerts and sporting events. If you can’t avoid crowds (e.g., at school or work), wash your hands often and, if possible, wear a mask.
In addition, avoid touching your mouth or nose after shaking hands or touching surfaces such as door handles and light switches at home and work, as they may be contaminated with germs.
Live Well With PIDD
Staying healthy when you have a primary immunodeficiency disease means understanding what increases your risk of developing an infection and taking precautions accordingly.
Immunodeficiencies affect people in different ways, and no overall blanket approach will work for everyone. But with proper advice and support, people with primary immunodeficiency disease can live full and active lives.
Written by: Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith is an LA-based content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.