A large number of genes are required to generate the components of the immune system. Some immune deficiency diseases arise when one or more of these genes are defective.
Immune system may be impaired during fetal development, resulting in congenital immune deficiency disorder. Immune deficiency may be hereditary or may be acquired. If immune deficiency is not inherited, various factors that affect the efficiency of immune system are as follows:
Illness or Infection or Injury:
One of the common reasons for lowered immune functioning is illness or infection.
Certain illnesses such as chicken pox, measles, tuberculosis, chronic hepatitis, and certain types of cancers weaken the immune system.
Injuries such as burn trauma or surgery also tend to lower the immune system’s first line of defense. Since the body has to split much of its energy and resources between healing and fighting off infections, immune system takes some time to recover from illness.
During recovery period due to reduced efficiency of immune system, body becomes vulnerable to invasion of other pathogens. The second infection before the recovery of first infection, hits the immune system harder and recovery takes longer.
Habits of individuals such as diet, sleep, hygiene, stress etc. also influence the efficiency of immune system.
Malnutrition and unbalanced diet also lower the function of immune system. Research has shown that poor nutrition compromises the lymphatic system, making the body more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Even though the exact reason is not fully understood, it is found that people who suffer from sleep disturbances or poor quality sleep tend to have weaker immune functioning than those who sleep 7 and 8 hours each night.
Many studies have shown that stress for prolonged period has a remarkable and powerful negative effect on the immune system. Simple hygienic habits such as washing hands regularly and keeping a clean living environment boost immune system efficiency.
Some medications, particularly immunosuppressant medications such as corticosteroids have an adverse effect on the immune system.
Since suppression of the immune system is the purpose of these medications, they leave the body open to all sorts of other infections and illnesses by supressing immune system.
Since chemotherapy reduces the white blood cell count, it often reduces the body’s defenses for several months, both during and after treatment. By interfearing in the functioning of immune system regular use of antibiotics may also contribute to immune deficiency.