Thrush Infection Causes Immune System

The immune system defends the body from developing potentially harmful diseases and conditions by identifying and reacting to antigens, large molecules (usually proteins) on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi or bacteria.

While some people think of antigens as living bacteria or fungi, many non-living substances (such as toxins, drugs and chemicals) can also be antigens. The immune systems main function is to pinpoint these antigens once they enter the body and destroy them.

Along with the harmful antigens that make us sick, our bodies also contain harmless protein antigens, known as HLA antigens. In healthy individuals, the immune system can tell the difference between threatening versus non-threatening antigens, leaving the innocuous antigens untouched.

When a person is in good health, their immune system will attack antigens associated with the development of thrush. However, those with compromised immune systems (whether due to short-term or chronic illness) are at a particularly high risk of coming down with thrush.

Thrush and Weakened Immune Systems

Thrush, a conditon caused by a fungus called Candida albicans, generally affects the moist parts of the body, such as the mouth and genitals. Although excessive levels of Candida albicans can cause a person to break out with thrust, which naturally lives on our bodies, the immune systems of healthy individuals (as well as the presence of healthy organisms on our bodies) generally keeps the levels of Candida albicans in check, preventing us from suffering from thrush.

However, those with weakened immune systems are unable to naturally regulate the levels of Candida albicans on their bodies. In these cases, this organism tends to grow unchecked, causing thrush lesions throughout your body. As a result, a weakened immune system decreases a persons resistance to infection and increases his chances of getting thrush. The following conditions may lead to a weakened immune system:

  • being ill or in poor health
  • having diabetes
  • having HIV infection or AIDS
  • undergoing chemotherapy or another drug regimen (such as a course of antibiotics or steroids) that weakens the immune system.

Additionally, the elderly and very young children are susceptible to having weakened immune systems and, therefore, may be at a higher risk for developing thrush.

How to Strengthen the Immune System

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from developing thrush (as well as a host of other diseases) is to strengthen your immune system so that it can properly fight off harmful antigens. In general, making some lifestyle changes can greatly improve your immune system function. Some things you can do to boost your immune system include:

  • eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat and cholesterol
  • establish consistent sleeping patterns so you are well rested
  • exercise regularly
  • minimize or properly manage stress (Regular exercise, proper rest and eating healthy all contribute to reducing stress.)
  • take a daily multivitamin to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need.

If you are trying to boost your immune system, consult your doctor, as he will be able to give you more specific instruction on how you can improve your individual case.

Boost the Immune System With Vitamins and Supplements

Taking certain vitamins and supplements is one lifestyle change people can make to strengthen their immune systems. While taking multivitamins is a good way to cover the bases, some vitamins in particular are especially important when it comes to strong immune systems.

For example, researchers have shown that vitamin C can increase our immunity to infections. Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies that coat cell surfaces. Consequently, some viruses are unable to penetrate the cell, which means that we dont develop that particular illness or disease.

Similarly, beta-carotene increases the bodys levels of white blood cells and other important infection-fighting agents that prevent us from getting sick. Another benefit of beta-carotene is that it is also a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to slow down the physical effects of aging. Other immune system boosting supplements include:

  • bioflavonoid
  • garlic
  • omega3 fatty acids.
  • selenium
  • vitamin E
  • zinc.

Resources

Article Search Engine and Directory: Articler.com (n.d.) Immune System Boost. Retrieved July 14, 2007 from the Articler.com Web site: http://www.articler.com/54724/Immune-System-Boost.html.

Medline Plus (2005). Thrush. Retrieved July 14, 2007 from the Medline Plus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000626.htm.

NHS Direct (2007). Thrush. Retrieved July 14, 2007 from the NHS Direct Web site: http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleid=87