People are just lazy: it’s much easier to take a pill

Almost as many have turned out to be those who do not see it at all, hoping for natural immunity. Who is right and how to help the body in a severe war with colds, the SHE correspondent learned from the immunologist of the Institute of Clinical Immunology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, MD, Honored Physician of the Russian Federation Natalia Starostina.

In the autumn, chicks are considered. In the case of health, this means: the body’s readiness for wintering begins. According to the survey results on the SHE portal, to the question “How do you support your body in the cold season?” Every third responded: “I take vitamins.”

Immunity – so often we hear this word today. And what is he like?

Immunity was previously considered a way to protect the body from various infections. Today it is understood more widely – as one of the central mechanisms for maintaining the constancy of the internal environment of the body – homeostasis. The immune system is a complex structure that includes many immunocompetent cells with their specialization and various regulatory molecules. It is proved that the normal functioning of the immune system is the main factor of human health.

Bone marrow and thymus are the central organs of the immune system, they provide for its self-renewal. And peripheral organs (spleen, lymph nodes, lymphoid tissue) is a place where an antigen and an immunocompetent cell meet, which recognizes the antigen. As a result, a specific immune response of the body develops.

What do they mean when they talk about a decrease in immunity? 

The decrease in immunity can be said in the event that it ceases to cope with its protective function: antitumoral, antiallergenic, and infectious. It can be caused genetically – then they speak about primary immunodeficiencies. And the “breakdown” of the system, acquired during life, is called secondary immunodeficiency. Do not confuse this syndrome with AIDS – an infectious disease of the organs of the immune system. It should be noted that a decrease in immunity does not always have clinical manifestations, but speaks of an increased risk of developing secondary immunodeficiencies.

What are the clinical manifestations of secondary immunodeficiencies?

First of all, these are infectious diseases with prolonged treatment, which are not amenable to therapy. For example, if an adult is sick up to six times a year and is treated for a long time for a cold, constantly getting complications. Secondary immunodeficiency is indicated by the presence of chronic inflammatory diseases: bronchopulmonary or cutaneous, often recurrent herpes, ENT organs, genitourinary sphere.

What contributes to the weakening of immunity? 

First of all, this is ecology, unbalanced irregular meals, hard work.

Chronic stressful situations, constant stress and low physical activity adversely affect the immune status.

Many endocrine disorders also provoke a weakened immune system. Some medications, antibiotics that are treated, the same inflammations often give rise to a vicious circle: the body’s natural defense decreases, the person starts to get sick again after a while, and this provokes additional stress.

A very common situation. Does this mean that everyone needs support for immunostimulating drugs?

Despite the fact that most people’s immunity is weakened, I always warn: all immunomodulators act very selectively. This means that you can not all prescribe the same drugs. They can be recommended only by an immunologist after a complete immunological examination. This does not mean that it must be passed absolutely to everyone, but if there is evidence – it is necessary. Nonimmunological specialists today often prescribe immunocorrectors to patients based on their diagnoses. If a narrow specialist does not have a complete history on his hands, he may simply not know about the presence of a person, for example, a tendency to autoimmune processes, in which the body begins to produce antibodies against its own tissues. Then the patient gets to the immunologist with a more serious diagnosis.

And more: treatment of secondary immunodeficiencies should begin with the elimination of the causes that caused them. Otherwise, the effect of any treatment will be short-lived.

Are taking vitamins efficiently, using various folk methods in strengthening immunity? A bioadditives, so actively promoted? 

All this – preparations of preventive action. If a person initially does not have serious problems, they contribute to strengthening the defenses of the body. It is proved that some vitamins have an immunomodulating action, for example A, E, C, as well as some trace elements, especially zinc, selenium, magnesium. We often prescribe vitamin prevention courses after the end of the main treatment.

But as for dietary supplements, many of them simply did not pass clinical trials. And what is really contained in them, only producers know. Talk about the effectiveness in this case, of course, is not necessary – it is good if the drug will be at least useless. 

But some herbs and plants do have an immune-stimulating effect, for example, preparations of earthen pear – Jerusalem artichoke. Or an extract of echinacea. But even in the instructions to these drugs you can see contraindications: the presence of autoimmune diseases, which you may simply not know about. Therefore, I do not advise myself to prescribe myself a drug “for prophylaxis”.

It turns out that very much can not be done.

How can you not? A healthy lifestyle? A friendly attitude to each other? Smile, morning exercises and pouring? Do not underestimate the general advice on a healthy lifestyle: tempering, air baths, eating fruits and vegetables and the correct regime of the day. These are simple rules, but often people are just lazy: it’s much easier to take a pill …

And drinks with lactobacilli, which are widely advertised today? Do they really help immunity?

Of course, everything is interconnected in the body. Only in conditions of normal microflora of the intestine can adequate immune cells be produced. Bifido- and lactobacilli, which are contained in such drinks, help to normalize the microflora, if there is an imbalance. For example, when treating antibiotics necessarily used special medicines with high content of lactobacilli.

But if a person is OK and there are no serious health problems, “drinks for immunity” will be of no more use to him than any other sour-milk products. 

There is an opinion that the body should be given the opportunity to cope with any disease. Does this make sense in reducing immunity?

Situations are different. In some serious cases, you really need to wait with immunocorrection and prescribe it only after a combination therapy of the underlying disease. But if you are worried about unreasonable weakness, lack of energy for dinner even after a good night’s sleep, and if the reason is not that you work without days off and have not been on leave for five years, then this is a direct indication for an immunologist and, perhaps, the appointment of appropriate drugs.

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