- by Monica B
Hello. My question is why do you develop new health problems that affect your quality of life, that are unlikely outgrowth of deficiencies in your immune system? For example, digestive problems or severe allergies?
Thank you so much for your question. So, our immune systems and our health can change over time. And certainly, we realize as we get older from childhood to adulthood, we can develop new medical problems. And sometimes we can also outgrow medical problems.
A lot of medical problems can be tied back to our immune system. And interestingly, overactive immune systems can lead to things like allergies or hypersensitivity reactions. This I think we know about in the setting of environmental allergies and food allergies and potential allergies to medications.
Other manifestations of overactive immune systems can be autoimmunity, autoimmune conditions, whether it’s rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions where we have overactive cells.
And then you have the flip side of our immune system, which over time, sometimes we can develop immune deficiencies, glitches in your immune system that actually prevent you from fighting infections and other foreign pathogens. So, our immune system is very complicated and can lead to a whole array of conditions, sometimes allergies, autoimmune conditions are even problems in fighting infection.
And it’s hard to know why these things happen or when they may happen. Immune deficiencies leading to trouble with infections often happen later in life. They happen at a very young age, and then people do well. And then advanced age, it can happen again.
Allergies, for example, often happen in children and actually get better with age, other autoimmune conditions, like problems with your blood counts, or rheumatologic illness like inflammatory arthritis often comes later in age. We know a lot, but we still don’t know a lot. And it remains the question of why things happen? Why does somebody get diagnosed with you a health problem at the age of 40, when they’ve done so well for so many years? And we still don’t know that we have a lot to learn because once we can learn things like that, we can start getting better at preventing things.
Your immune system is very, very complicated. It can certainly play in with many disease states and conditions, many of which we’re familiar with, and then many uncommon ones. And we’re getting better and better at managing these, but we still have a lot to learn.