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How does diabetes affect the immune system?

Diabetes has become a very common condition nowadays which is often not taken seriously because of the lack of information about the negative effects it has on health. It has many harmful effects, one of which is its effect on the immune system. Let us know what our immune system is before knowing about the effects of diabetes.

What is our immune system?

Dr. Ambarish Mithal, Chairman and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, said, “Any germ, any bacteria, any virus that we come in contact with, our body first fights it at its own level. ” The skin, then at a deeper level, by the white blood cells circulating in our blood. When we have repeated infections, our body’s ability to fight the infection improves, especially if we have a mild infection. Our body makes antibodies against the infectious agent, and activates white cells, which enable us to better fight off subsequent infections. This is the principle of vaccination!”

“When we have diabetes and high blood sugar, our body is working under stress – this includes our immune system. Infections spread faster and take longer to heal. Also, when you generate an immune response, you also provoke inflammation. Inflammation can directly damage various organs. Remember, this process depends on the level of glucose control. For people whose diabetes is well controlled, the risk Not much,” he said.

Relationship between diabetes and immune system:

Dr. Ambrish Mithal said, “People who have diabetes are more likely to get different infections. Not only this, if you have diabetes and you get an infection, then the chances of recovery from it are also less.” Lower or slower than someone with diabetes.” diabetes. If you have uncontrolled diabetes you will recover slowly from the infection. If you contract an infection, your blood sugar level will increase. So it’s like a vicious cycle—if you have diabetes, your risk of getting an infection is higher. Once you get an infection, your blood sugar goes up more. “High blood sugar will impair your immune response.”

How does diabetes affect our immune system?

In this regard, Dr. Dheeraj Kapoor, who heads Endocrinology at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, said, “First, high blood sugar levels, a characteristic of diabetes, can weaken the immune response. Hyperglycaemia impairs the function of various immune cells, including neutrophils and macrophages, which are essential for detecting and eliminating pathogens. This impaired immune function makes people with diabetes more vulnerable to infection.”

“Secondly, diabetes can cause chronic inflammation. High blood sugar levels trigger the release of pro-inflammatory molecules, resulting in chronic low-grade inflammation that can disrupt the balance of the immune system and “This may make it less effective at distinguishing between harmful invaders and the body’s own cells. As a result, the immune system may attack healthy tissues, contributing to autoimmune diseases,” he said.

Additionally, Dr. Sajid Mairaj, a senior consultant physician and diabetologist at Prayag Hospitals Group, said, “High blood sugar levels also create a favorable environment for the proliferation of bacteria and fungi, increasing the risk of various infections. Additionally, diabetes-induced inflammation can damage blood vessels and reduce circulatory system function, which can also impair immune responses. Chronic inflammation associated with diabetes weakens the body’s defenses. , making a person more susceptible to diseases. Additionally, diabetes can disrupt the balance of microbiota in the gut, affecting overall immune function.”

What can we do to keep our immune system strong?

Dr. Ambrish Mithal listed the following points:

  • Blood sugar has to be kept under control.
  • However, it is helpful to maintain adequate hydration and consume foods rich in minerals and antioxidants, such as vegetables and fruits.
  • Being physically active is important for our immunity.
  • Staying active can be challenging during periods of high pollution, as Delhi is currently experiencing. Please wear a mask when you go for a walk but do not stop being physically active.
  • Frequent hand washing is advised. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching anything outside your home or in public areas.
  • It’s easy to give advice on reducing stress, but you have to find your own way. Meditation, yoga/pranayama/music are some of the methods.
  • Get enough sleep, as less sleep clearly impairs immunity. Seven hours of sleep every night is recommended, (certainly not less than six).
  • Finally, of course, be sure to get vaccine shots as per your doctor’s advice. Ideally, everyone with diabetes should get a flu vaccine every year, especially those over the age of sixty.



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