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"What causes a person's immune system to be compromised?"


I feel like I get sick a lot. Do I have a compromised immune system? What could cause this other than HIV/AIDS?


The immune system is very complex and can be influenced by many different things. You are correct that HIV can affect a person's immune system and cause him or her to become ill more often than is typical. However, there are many different things that can cause recurrent illness other than HIV.

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There are several different genetic conditions that cause a person to be born with an immune system that doesn't work properly. People with autoimmune diseases, chronic pulmonary conditions, or diseases like cancer are often more prone to certain types of infections. In addition, fatigue or stress can also weaken your immune system. If you are ill or worried about the frequency with which you seem to be getting sick, the best thing to do is visit your primary care physician right away. He or she can examine you and make sure that no specific treatment is required for your current illness. In addition, you can discuss your health history, including your recent colds, to determine if further testing is indicated. Depending upon your discussion, your physician may also want to know about your family history or even pursue specific laboratory testing. In the meantime, it is always a good idea to make sure that your practice scrupulous hand hygiene and get your flu shot to help stay healthy during the winter cold and flu season!

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