How Long is the Immune System Compromised After Steroids?

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

how long is the immune system compromised after steroids

Have you ever wondered how long the immune system is compromised after steroid treatment?

It’s a brain to pick, I know.

Here is a quick primer: the immune system comprises your body’s ability to fight off foreign invaders. It’s like your body’s cops and attorneys combined. This system becomes compromised in case of drug use. When you introduce steroids, which are considered the foreign invaders, the immune system might be easily breached.

For anyone on medications (not just steroids), we usually feel that it is incumbent upon us to do some research on possible side effects, like “how long after taking steroids is your immune system compromised?”, or “do blood thinners make you tired?”

What Are Steroids?

What Do Steroids Do to the Body?

Steroids are a type of hormone that your body makes to help you fight illness. If you’re taking a steroid, it means your body isn’t making enough of these hormones on its own. There are many different types of steroids, and some come from plants. But most people take the kind that doctors prescribe for conditions like lupus and asthma. Doctors can use steroids for other conditions, too, but in those cases the steroid is made in the lab and is called an anabolic steroid.

Who Uses Steroids?

People with conditions that can be treated with corticosteroids include:

  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Ulcerative Colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Allergies
  • Skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis

All these different kinds of conditions need their own individualized treatment plan, so there’s no one-size-fits-all dosing guide when it comes to steroids.

injection

For example, a person who has asthma might need an inhaler with a little bit of steroid in it on a daily basis to keep their condition under control, while someone else with asthma might just need something stronger to get through a bad flare up every once in a while.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Steroids?

Steroids have both good and bad effects on the body. They’re mostly used for treating inflammation, like muscle or joint swelling. Steroids can also treat certain types of cancer and AIDS by allowing your body to better handle the stress of these diseases.

But they do have some negative side effects, too. For example, they can make your bones weaker if you don’t eat enough calcium while you’re taking them. And they can change how your skin looks by making it redder or oilier than usual.

Why Does Taking Steroids Compromise the Immune System?

It’s no secret that steroids can weaken the immune system and leave you susceptible to illness, and not just for the duration of your steroid cycle. There’s a pretty hefty body of evidence out there to back up the claim that steroids have immunosuppressive properties.

The question, though, is why. Why does taking steroids compromise your immune system? Is it something about the drugs themselves? Is it because they’re synthetic compounds? Or is it because of their effects on other aspects of your body?

When the immune system encounters bacteria or viruses, it produces antibodies to fight them off. Antibodies can target and destroy antigens that belong to the foreign organism, such as proteins on the surface of a virus or bacterium. Then, the body’s cells will engulf and digest the invader before it can cause infection. The immune system is also able to recognize its own cells so that it doesn’t attack them mistakenly as it does with pathogens; this is called self-tolerance.

When you take corticosteroids or anabolic steroids, they trick your immune system into thinking that your body’s tissues are under attack. Remember, your immune system is the part of your body that fights off illness, such as viruses. To do this, it releases white blood cells. But when you take steroids, your body stops making as many white blood cells. This means your immune system can’t fight off infections like it should.

How Long Is the Immune System Compromised After Steroids?

At this point, you are already aware that steroids can suppress your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections. So how long does this effect last? And what can you do to speed up recovery?

sick woman lying on the sofa

The length of time your immune system is suppressed after steroids would depend on the dose and length of treatment. If you’re taking steroids in low doses over short periods of time, it usually takes around five days for your immune system to return to normal. If you need to take them for longer than two weeks, however, it could take longer—possibly up to three months—for your immune system to build up strength again.

While steroids are great at relieving pain and inflammation in the short term, they can have serious side effects over time. These include: Weight gain, diabetes, bone loss, fluid retention, and even heart disease.

7 Tips To Boost Your Immune System After Taking Steroids

Drugs such as steroids are often called “cytotoxic” or “immunosuppressive.” While both types of medication help manage certain illnesses, they also have an impact on your immune system and can cause problems for people with weakened immunity. This means you’ll become more vulnerable to viruses and colds. Here are some tips you can refer to when boosting your immunity.

Tip 1: Get Enough Sleep

Sleeping well is one of the key things that help in boosting your immune system. This is a fact, as it helps in making you feel refreshed, have improved memory and shorten the time to recover when you’re really sick. Poor sleeping habits can leave us with some kind of viral or bacterial infection which may lead to illness.

Tip 2: Eat Healthy

Eating well is the cornerstone of good health and the key to boosting your immune system. It protects you from colds, infections and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. So what should you be eating? The answer is simple: plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. These foods are loaded with nutrients that support your immune system, such as vitamins A and C, zinc and selenium.

Tip 3: Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise gives your heart and lungs a workout, getting your blood pumping and delivering oxygen to your body. And the more oxygen you have in your system, the less likely you are to get sick.

riding a bike

Exercising also increases the white blood cells in your body, which help fight infections. As if that weren’t enough, it also helps your body produce antibodies—those little guys go straight to work fighting off any infections you might come into contact with.

Tip 4: Manage Stress Levels

When you are stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released in your body. While this is a normal response of the body to an outside stimulus, too much exposure can cause damage to your immune system.

To manage your stress levels, prioritize the stuff you have to do, and figure out what can wait until later. Focus on one thing at a time, instead of trying to do everything at once. Take breaks from work when you need them, and don’t try to push through if you’re really tired or feeling overwhelmed—you won’t be any good to anyone if you burn yourself out. You can also try meditation.

Tip 5: Avoid Places That Make You Susceptible To Illnesses

There are plenty of places that increase your chances of getting sick or making other people sick, so if you’ve got a cold or the flu (or even allergies!), try to steer clear. The most obvious is the doctor’s office, which is full of other sick people, and the hospital, which can have some pretty contagious diseases.

You’ll also want to avoid crowded places like airports, theaters, and subways—if you’re coughing or sneezing, you don’t want to be in a confined space with others who can easily catch what you have.

Tip 6: Drink Plenty Of Fluids

The more hydrated you are, the better equipped your body is to fight off germs and sickness. That’s why experts recommend drinking anywhere from 8 to 13 cups of water per day, depending on how active you are.

For example, if you go for a run every evening after work, or you’re out in the sun all day during the summer, it’s best to drink 13 cups of water each day so that your body doesn’t become dehydrated.

Tip 7: Take Immunity-boosting Supplements

Supplements such as NAD+ pills can help you stay healthy and ward off germs and viruses that are trying to make their way into your body and make you sick. There are many different types of supplements, but the ones that have been shown in studies to be most effective for boosting your immune system are zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D.

Taking Immunity Boosting Supplements After Steroid Therapy

Let’s expound more on Tip 7. When you feel like your body has been already going through a lot, a reset of your immune system could be a good idea. You can take immunity-boosting supplements, but make sure you check with your doctor first before doing so.

supplement pills

One of the best immunity-boosting supplements is Infinity. Infinity is a NAD longevity formula, which helps you reverse the aging process. You will definitely feel better now than you did some decades ago. It boosts your immune system, helps you sleep better, encourages cellular repair caused by factors such as stress, and maintains the integrity of your DNA.

FAQs About Steroids And The Immune System

How Long Can You Take Steroids Safely?

It depends on the steroid, but in general, they should not be used for long time periods. Steroids have a wide range of side effects, and using them too often (or at too high of a dosage) can cause serious health problems. It is generally recommended that you take a break between cycles of using steroids if you plan to use them more than once or twice per year.

Do Steroids Affect The Immune System?

The answer is yes. Steroids affect the immune system by suppressing its ability to fight infection as effectively as it normally would. They do this because they’re used to treat diseases that cause the body’s natural defense mechanism, the immune system, to overreact. By suppressing the immune response, steroids reduce inflammation and help with autoimmune disorders.

What Medications Can Suppress The Immune System?

In general, medications that suppress the immune system are prescribed to people who have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Autoimmune diseases occur when your body attacks itself. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe medicines that suppress certain functions of the immune system to keep it from attacking healthy tissues.

In addition to autoimmune diseases, immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed if you’ve had an organ transplant so that you don’t reject the new organ.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Taking Steroids?

Here are some of the risks included in taking steroids, especially without a prescription:

  • Liver damage
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Mood swings and aggression
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Permanent shrinking of testicles in men

Do Steroids Reset Your Immune System?

Yes, they do. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. When you take steroids, they suppress your immune system—just like they suppress inflammation in the body. But when you stop taking steroids, your immune system continues to be suppressed for some time after.

Conclusion

There appear to be quite a few differing thoughts and opinions from others conducting similar studies, so it seems that the answer to this question is still up for debate. But as you can see from this research and others that have been published, steroids can have a very negative effect on your immune system, which can put your body at risk for a host of potential health problems.

So if you are concerned about any ongoing health issues, then it would certainly be a good idea to explore all possible treatment options before resorting to taking steroids… and don’t forget to boost your immune system while at it! Please join our Facebook group for more information on wellness, longevity, and boosting your immune system naturally.

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