Immune Suppression

Immune suppression describes a loss of immune function. It can occur for many reasons, including disease, medication, surgery, age or genetics.

What is immune suppression?

Immune suppression, also known as immunosuppression or immunocompromise, means your immune system isn't working properly. So what is your immune system? It is a combination of defences our bodies have to fight off infections. Various parts of our body systems work as soldiers in this fight, particularly the white cells in our bloodstream, along with our spleen and lymph nodes.

Read the separate leaflet called The Immune System.

When this system is suppressed, ie not working as it should, we are more vulnerable to infection.

What does it mean for me?

If your immune system is suppressed, you may be more vulnerable to infection. You are more likely to need to see a doctor, more likely to need antibiotics and more likely to land up in hospital for treatment if you develop an infection, than someone who is not immunosuppressed. You can't have live vaccines if you are immunosuppressed, and you may need to take special precautions when you travel.

You are also more vulnerable to certain skin cancers if you are immunosuppressed.

Do I need regular tests?

If you are on certain immunosuppressing medicines then you will have regular blood tests to check they aren't causing more harm than good. With others, tests will only be done if you develop a problem. Learn about monitoring of immunosuppressing treatments.

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Author:
Dr Mary Harding
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
29417 (v1)
Last Checked:
05 July 2017
Next Review:
04 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.