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Illness & Conditions - Definition

Impaired Immune System

Impaired Immune System

The immune system is the body's natural defense system that helps fight infections. An impaired immune system does not work properly and can't effectively protect a person against infection.

Some conditions and medicines weaken or impair the immune system. These may include:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal.
  • Certain diseases or conditions. Diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, or conditions in which the body mistakenly identifies its own tissues as harmful (autoimmune disorders) are some examples.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Some medicines, such as corticosteroids or those taken to suppress the immune system after an organ transplant.
  • Surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy).

Last Revised: April 5, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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