Immunosuppressive drugs can cause depression of the body's natural defense system, resulting in increased risks of infections and illnesses. Common immunosuppressive medications include corticosteroids and prednisone. These drugs are usually prescribed for patients undergoing transplantation operations, certain cancer regimens or medical conditions with mild to severe inflammatory symptoms, such as dermatitis and eczema. Diet, nutrition, stress reduction and implementing healthy lifestyle changes are some ways patients can help build a strong immune system when taking immunosuppressive drugs.
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Eat a healthy diet with foods high in fiber and nutrients. These foods do not stress the body's immune system. Fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods contain carbohydrates that possess high levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants. They are free of trans fat and contain low levels of saturated fats. Whole grain bread, cereals, brown rice, potatoes and yams are examples of healthy foods to eat to help increase the body's immune system.
Learn alternative ways to reduce the stress in the body, as any additional stressors can cause further breakdown of the body's immune system. Take yoga or meditation classes to help maintain physical strength and calm the central nervous system by finding inner peace and calm.
Find time to rest and get at least eight hours of quality sleep. The body needs this time to heal and to build up energy reserves from the day's activities. Individuals on immunosuppressive medications are more prone to fatigue and increased risks of infections, which can interfere with the amount of sleep and quality of rest. Take short naps throughout the day to prevent exhaustion or any weakening of the body's immune system.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid drinks with high sugar content. Freshly squeezed fruit juices with high antioxidant properties will help boost the immune system. Avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine, as this will cause the body to be stressed and increase nervousness and anxiety.
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A daily dose of sunlight will help the body increase vitamin D levels. Take a brisk 10-minute walk early in the morning for physical exercise.
Be careful not to over-expose the body to the sun because some immunosuppressants can increase the risk of skin rash and allergic reactions. Always consult your medical doctor before starting alternative therapies or herbal treatments.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.