Immune Suppression

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 05 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Adrian Bonsall, 05 Jul 2017

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

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.

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.

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.

Further reading and references

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