Friday, December 14, 2012

Cushing’s And the Immune System

Greetings again my friends and readers!

Well, it has come time to talk about another aspect of Cushing’s, compromised immune system response.  Most old time zebras know well enough how vulnerable they are to opportunistic infections.  That’s one of the things long term exposure to steroids do is to make the immune system weaker and less able to ward off disease and infections.  And what is Cushing’s syndrome but long term exposure to steroids?

I was forcibly reminded of that fact this past week.  To set the stage I was having some problems with what seemed to be a stomach bug of some sort.  So I went to a clinic not far down the highway from where I live.  After seeing the doctor and being told I was suffering from “food poisoning” I waited out in the waiting room for my wife to pick me up since she’d run out to run a couple of errands real quick while I was in.  I collapsed right there in the waiting room and was rushed to the hospital where I remained until yesterday.

Although there are still some questions since I didn’t test positive for the flu or bacterial infection, it was decided that I had been brought low by a viral infection which affected more than one system and also severely dehydrated me in the process.  Right up to the last minute before release I was pumped full of antibiotics and fluids.

That is one of the things those of us who suffer from Cushing’s have to be aware of and watch out for.  Our immune systems become less able to cope with invaders over time and one can easily get into in trouble if one doesn’t stay on top of things, like I didn’t.  That means not waiting until what seems like a small problem gets out of hand.  So one has to treat almost every sniffle as something serious, don’t wait around to treat it and be ready to get help at the first sign of trouble.  I know doctors and insurers get a little bent out of shape by us “hypochondriacs,”   But let me tell you three days stuck in a hospital bed eating the low calorie diets us fat folks inevitably get put on in the vain hope we’ll lose weight is no fun.

Another thing I found while checking the net for this post was multiple reports on some research done which is another reason to be careful.  It seems there is some evidence that infections can cause the production of cortisols to go out of control in a victim of Cushing’s with fatal results.  Since all I could access were abstracts I couldn’t get down to the details.  So there’s another reason for anybody with Cushing’s to be careful, very careful.

That doesn’t mean a Cushie can’t live a reasonable life on that score.  Just exercise common sense and care.  Do that and you can generally avoid ending up in as extreme a situation as I ended up in.

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