Immune Deficiency Disorders: Lifestyle Management

Reviewed by Ann Mullen, RN, CNS, AE-C, CDE, TTS

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

Immune deficiency management includes:

  • Avoiding and treating infections

  • ​Medication and replacement therapies

  • Proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle

  • Anticipating associated problems, such as autoimmune disease and cancer (screening)

  • Coping with having an immune deficiency


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 only 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 Deficiency

Maintaining a normal lifestyle is possible for most people with an immune deficiency, 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 deficiency is causing family problems, be sure to talk with someone. 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 deficiency. 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. Your doctor may be able to talk with your insurance company and fix these insurance problems. Your doctor is your partner in taking care of your immune deficiency.


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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