underactive or overactive immune system? Same difference? Confused! rop

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by shelbo, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. shelbo

    shelbo New Member

    I seem to have become increasingly allergic in nature. When I was speaking to my doctor about this I asked her if it was because my immune system is underactive due to the CFS and she said that on the contrary it was due to an overactive immune system...

    I didn't pursue this with my doc at the time but ever since the ???s have been going around my head....especially as I have been trying to get stronger and beat my allergic state through diet and supplements etc (basically the allergic state is driving me nuts, I constantly have an incredibly itchy nose for example)...

    Does anyone know whether an overactive immune system, as opposed to an underactive immune system, requires a different approach? In other words, on the lovely Jam's advice I've been trying to incorporate pycnogenol. I've also been taking vit c, milk thistle, essential fatty acids to build up my immunity and hope I'm doing the right thing...etc

    I'm really confused if it is a good idea to try to 'build up' an overactive immune system... Should I be trying to 'dampen' my immune system if it's working overtime and if so, how? I'm not sure what I should be doing? I just don't want to get worse.... =(

    Any ideas anyone? Thanks, Shelbo
    [This Message was Edited on 03/04/2009]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/04/2009]
  2. emmally

    emmally New Member

    and I could be wrong...(brain fog, lots of meds, happy I can remember my name sometime) is that people with AIDS have underactive immune systems and that is why they more easily pick up over viruses and infections that they usually die from..Its usually not HIV that kills them, it will be the other virus or infection that they cannot fight off.

    People with CFS have an overactive immune system which in a way is just as bad. It is working so overtime trying to fight off whatever is causing it to be overactive, that these viruses, pathogens, and infections can work there way in without your body putting them down like a normal healthy person could......
    [This Message was Edited on 03/04/2009]
  3. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    My understanding is that in many states of illness, there is an IMBALANCE in the immune system. That is, one or more aspects may be overactive, while other aspects of the immune system may be underactive. To some extent, this may be a compensatory imbalance -- the body, in its wisdom, is responding to a perceived threat.

    The immune system is fantastically complex. There are immune operators at the cellular level, others in the bloodstream, in bone marrow, in fat, in the gut, in the brain, in endocrine organs, in the thymus gland. There are chemical, electrical and physiological modulators of our immune function.

    So, to my way of thinking, a +/-, either/or mentality is a bit simplistic.

    There ARE docs who will look at various aspects of immune status, but this is not current standard of care for primary practice/Int Med in the USA. Docs who do this tend to be mavericks, or naturopaths, or perhaps researchers. Some immunologists will run certain tests, but only in certain cases, like suspected genetic immunopathologies -- not run of the mill CFS.

    With allergies, avoidance is always the first line common-sense approach. That is most doable when the specific allergens have been pinpointed through testing or elimination protocols. An immediate secondary consideration is endocrine function, particularly thyroid and adrenal function. Tweaking the HPA axis often leads to significant reduction in allergy misery -- but it is something rarely done by traditional MDs.

    Best wishes.
  4. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    As SnooZQ said, our immune systems are complex....however, to try to simplify it and make it more understandable, the way I look at it is that in ME/CFS our immune systems are confused as to what to attack and what not to. As a result, they are constantly "on". So, when something new comes along, the immune system automatically attacks it, even if it is something that "normal" immune systems would ignore. That's why we are so sensitive/allergic to so many things. On the flip side, though, since the immune system is constantly on the attack, it is overloaded and when something comes along that it should be attacking, it doesn't have enough reserves to adequately defeat the new virus or bacteria or whatever. So, it appears as though we are both immune deficient and have an autoimmune disorder at the same time.