It’s that time of year! Flu season is approaching and if you suffer from a weak immune system from an autoimmune disease then you could be at risk. Taking the necessary precautions this year to avoid the germs from spreading to you will be your best bet.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?
In a healthy individual, the immune system fights to protect you from getting any types of diseases and infections. Well, the complete opposite happens to a person with a autoimmune disease, but not purposely. You see, when an individual gets sick the healthy immune system sends it’s healthy cells to fight against those foreign bodies trying to cause harm. When it comes to individuals with autoimmune diseases, the immune system becomes confused thinking those foreign bodies which are really parts of your body, are the bad guys and the healthy cells start to mistakenly attack those areas of your body. Here are a few examples of what autoimmune diseases are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: The immune system attacks the joints. The joints become stiff, feverish, and very painful
- Systematic Lupus Erythematosus: The immune system attacks the skin, joints, kidney’s, brain, and heart.
- Multiple Sclerosis: The immune system attacks the central nervous system. This attack causes dizziness, numbness, and difficulty walking.
- Graves Disease: Attacks the thyroid gland in the neck. This attack causes lack of energy and low metabolism.
How will the Flu Affect my Disease?
So now that you have a better understanding of what an autoimmune disease, it is safe to say that if influenza droplets entered into your immune system, your immune system could mistaken it for something else causing an attack on an already healthy part of your body making it hard for you to fight it off.
Some autoimmune diseases use immunosuppressant drugs to help treat the disease, but these drugs also suppress the immune system making even harder than it was before to fight off viruses and infections. These immunosuppressant drugs are classified as:
- Corticosteroids: Help reduce inflammation.
- Biologics: Injections/infusions that are used to treat any of the above diseases mentioned and any other autoimmune disease. These drugs are intended to put an individual into remission.
- Inhibitors: Used to treat inflammation.
- Antibodies: Man-made antibodies from cloned cells used to trick to the body into thinking healthy antibodies are there.
How to Prevent the Flu This Year
There are a few simple things you can do this year to help with the prevention of germs spreading your way:
- Wash hands consistently
- Hand sanitizer
- Dress weather appropriate
- Cover your nose/mouth when coughing and sneezing
- Get vaccinated
For more information regarding the 2019-2020 flu season, please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.