Immunocompromised vs. Immunosuppressed

Immunocompromised or immunosuppressed?

Immunocompromised and immunosuppressed are two very different things. We are going to discuss the difference and how it relates to celiac disease.

Immunocompromised means some part of the immune system is not functioning properly. An example of this is selective IgA deficiency. This is where some people don’t create enough Immunoglobulin A or a protein that is part of the immune system that helps fight infection. The IgA is tested as part of the celiac panel and acts as a “control” to ensure the immune system is functioning properly. If you don’t produce enough IgA, the main test in the celiac panel, the TTG IgA, will be invalid because the body doesn’t produce enough IgA to generate an immune response to gluten.

Immunocompromised has many other diseases associated with it but doesn’t mean that the person has recurrent infections. However, according to Healthline, recurrent pink eye, diarrhea, yeast infections, and pneumonia are symptoms that are often associated with those that are immunocompromised.

Immunosuppressed means that the immune system is artificially impaired. Think of it like transplant patients taking drugs to stop the body from rejecting their new transplanted organ.

Celiac disease is not a disease that renders the celiac patient immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, but is an autoimmune disease. Instead, the celiac patient’s overactive immune system attacks the self instead of being less active.

Most doctors will say that those with well-controlled celiac, typically those on a gluten free diet after a year, will tell someone that their immune system is functioning normally The risk of all cancers and heart disease returns to “normal” risk levels after celiac is well controlled.

The reason I’m talking about this is the Wuhan coronavirus is all the rage. There are just over 8,000 cases worldwide and just over 200 people have died from the virus or its complication. According to the CDC, “CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths from flu.” The flu is much more dangerous than coronavirus and will kill more people and people with celiac disease can prevent this disease with a simple shot.

*Updated as of March 17 – This was originally posted in late January 2020 and as we all know, the internet never forgets. 😉 At the time, it was thought the Wuhan coronavirus was less dangerous than the flu. Things have changed. The COVID-19 virus is far more dangerous than the flu and should be thought of as such. The COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc during this global pandemic. Please follow the recommendations of your public health department regarding minimizing the risk of infection. Right now the recommendations are to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and perform social distancing to minimize the risk of infection.

Furthermore, those with well-controlled celiac disease are not thought to be at higher risk than the general population. If one has other issues, please consult your physician for more information regarding mitigating your risk of acquiring the infection.

Thank you to those that noticed this error and brought it to my attention.*

I’m talking about flu because I have it now and my husband and daughter have recently had it. We all got the shot. We still got the flu and are miserable but are still going to be okay.

So, I’m going to take a nap and some gluten free ibuprofen! Wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “Immunocompromised vs. Immunosuppressed”

  1. Your comments about COVID-19 Coronavirus being less dangerous than the flu are incorrect and should be edited. Please consult with epidemiologist and seek to understand what case fatality rate means for the danger of this disease.

    1. Thanks Mike. That post was originally published in late January and the risk levels have obviously changed. I have updated the post regarding the new recommendations from the public health department regarding social distancing and hand washing.

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