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Immune Deficiency Disorders: Lifestyle Management

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This information was reviewed and approved by Jessica Galant-Swafford, MD (2/1/2022).

A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, including people with immune disorders. 

Immune deficiency management includes:

  • Avoiding and treating infections

  • Immune globulin replacement 

    • Taking other medications to manage complications that are not infections (such as chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, autoimmune diseases and cancer) and monitoring for these conditions over time

    • Proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle

  • Emotional support from family, friends and/or licensed therapists


Avoiding Infections

Complete isolation from foreign invaders is difficult and prevents a normal lifestyle. Two actions that will reduce the risk of infections include frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with people that have infections. If you are taking medication to prevent infection, it is important to take all scheduled doses and not allow for gaps in the treatment schedule.


Healthy Diet

A healthy diet boosts the immune system's ability to fight infection. Actions you can take to help strengthen the immune system include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Eat a variety of foods daily, including grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and dairy products.

  • Take a multivitamin supplement containing 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). RDAs are the minimum amounts of nutrients that a healthy person requires each day.

  • Your doctor or registered dietitian can help recommend a healthy diet for you.


Enough Rest

Adequate sleep and rest give your body and your immune system time to maintain and repair themselves. Quiet activities like reading or crafts are helpful during times of rest or illness.


Regular Exercise

Regular exercise impacts your overall fitness by improving heart and muscle function. Most people who exercise regularly also feel an increased sense of well-being. Walking, swimming and biking are some of the activities people with immune deficiencies can do. Children should be encouraged to participate in safe, age-appropriate activities. Talk with your doctor about recommending an exercise program for you.


Living With an Immune Disorder

Maintaining a normal lifestyle is possible for most people with an immune disorder, but there are unique obstacles that you must face and overcome. Sometimes a chronic illness can be hard on the whole family. If your immune disorder is causing stress at home or strains on family relationships, please let your doctor know. Your doctor can help you find an expert to talk with. There also may be support groups where you can meet and talk to other people with an immune disorder. Visit the Immune Deficiency Foundation to get connected to others and for important educational opportunities. Having an immune deficiency may require treatment with medications that require approval from your insurance company. If you are having problems getting proper coverage for these medications, it is important to tell your doctor, who will advocate on your behalf. Your doctor is your partner in taking care of your immune deficiency and immune dysregulatory disorder.

Remember your goals:

  • Participate in work, school, family and social activities.
  • Decrease the number and severity of infections.
  • Have few, if any, side effects from medications and other treatments.
  • Feel good about yourself and your treatment program.

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