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Aging and Immunity

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As?we grow older,?our immune system loses its ability to fight?infections, which puts?us?at a greater risk of contracting certain diseases.?? Aging can also? cause some?vaccinations to be less effective.???For example, the annual??flu shot that you?receive may not protect you as well, or as long as?it did in the past.?Your immune system’s ability to detect and correct cell defects also declines, which results in an increase in cancers and other symptoms associated with aging.

The immune system become less tolerant of your own body’s cells, which sometimes creates an ?autoimmune disorder?, where normal tissue is mistaken for foreign tissue, and causes the immune cells to attack certain organs or tissues. Aging also can?affects inflammation and wound healing. ?When the immune system thinks there is trouble, it sends more cells to the site of the problem. This causes swelling, pain, redness, warmth, and irritation. ?Inflammation is a sign of infection, but it can?also occurs as part of an autoimmune attack.

Other factors can?also increase the risk of infections.? Bacteria can enter through cuts, or because of Illness or surgery, which can also weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to subsequent infections. Diabetes, which is more common with increasing age, can also lead to decreased immunity.

Older people also?tend to heal more slowly. This may be related to changes in the immune system, or it may be a result of other problems such as diabetes or arteriosclerosis.??These conditions can?lead to decreased blood flow to some parts of the body such as the lower legs, which can hamper the healing process.?Also, many older people take anti-inflammatory medications to control conditions such as arthritis, which also slows down the?healing process.

Keeping yourself healthy is the best medicine. Maintaining good health involves:

  • Exercise
  • A well-balanced diet
  • No smoking
  • Limited alcohol use ?– moderate drinking has some health benefits, but avoid excessive drinking .
  • Safety and awareness measures to avoid falls and other injuries

Routine immunizations are important as we get older. Your health care provider?can recommend what vaccines are most?beneficial for seniors.???A home nursing care professional can help you set and maintain a schedule of exercise, treatment and medication .

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