How to Help Me Stay Healthy: why the flu and coronavirus are extra scary for the immunosuppressed

I can not say this enough; if you are sick stay home. You probably have been hearing a lot of people say this and I am going to explain some reasons why.

I have an autoimmune disease. This means my immune system attacks healthy cells even when it’s not being attacked by an outside illness, this decreases my immune system’s capabilities of attacking invaders. There are a lot of different types of autoimmune diseases but some are even more susceptible to illness based on their treatment.

In order to treat autoimmune diseases, you have to calm down the immune system to stop it from attacking itself. A common form of treatment is immunosuppressant medications; these medications are meant to slow down or stop parts of the immune system. There are several medications listed as immunosuppressants, I am currently on 3 of them. These medications are commonly used to treat psoriasislupusrheumatoid arthritisCrohn’s diseasemultiple sclerosis, and alopecia areata.

Due to my medications and immune system, I can’t take Vitamin C supplements or any immune-boosting vitamins. The only way I can defend myself against viruses is by washing my hands, not touching my face, and getting vaccinated. By doing everything you can to stay healthy I have a better chance of staying healthy as well.

Not only am I more likely to get sick, but when I do get sick it is likely going to be much worse than when the average person gets the same virus.

Last June I got the flu, I know who the heck gets the flu in June. I had a fever for a week straight, could barely get out of bed, and couldn’t keep any food down. My flu symptoms lasted 2 weeks, this is about double the average amount of time it takes for the flu to run its course. This is typically what happens to anyone with an autoimmune disease when they get sick, and especially for those on immunosuppressants. Because our immune system is too busy attacking itself, it ignores the bad cells in its system lengthening the recovery process.

I am lucky enough to work from home so I don’t have to worry about office germs, but I am still a human and need to leave my apartment. What really grinds my gears is when I see people out and about that are very cleary sick. Or the people who think they just won’t get sick and do nothing to stop themself from doing so (ie. wash your hands). A lot of people don’t realize how their health affects the health of those around them.

You never know who you are around. Be mindful of how your decisions affect other people’s lives. And PLEASE, stay home if you’re sick!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I work in the medical field, I just have learned a lot in my 10 years living with a chronic illness.

Leave a comment