low immune system

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 1/8/2008 12:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Do people with crohns all have a low immune system or is it just some of us when crohns has been active? Im a bit confused.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2004
Total Posts : 422
   Posted 1/8/2008 12:33 PM (GMT -7)   
I would venture to say everyone with Crohn's has a low immune system, although I'm sure some have lower ones than others depending on habits. Chohn's is, by definition, an auto-immune disease.

For me, the fact that my immune system is compromised due to the Crohn's, I also deal with fatigue, joint pain, ulcers, etc. which has nothing to do with my bowels but everything to do with my lower immune system due to the Crohn's.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 267
   Posted 1/8/2008 2:28 PM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Kitti, I'm pretty sure that all CD sufferers have a very compromised immune system, it's the nature of the disease.
Marci, 38 years young, Rockledge, FL
Dx with Crohn's disease March 2006
Currently on bi-weekly Humira, daily 6mg Entocort, daily 2-3x 5mg hydrocodone (for pain), and daily 75mg Effexor,
plus 3x per day heavy iron supplements for anemia,
calcium supplement, daily multi-vitamin,
Lasix as needed for ankle/feet swelling
Self-proclaimed "recluse"  do to CD  ;)

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 210
   Posted 1/8/2008 2:41 PM (GMT -7)   
So what does immunosuppressants do? Put the immune system even lower? Is that why we often get even more diseases?

Diagnosed CD June 2007. Have only used prednisone. Did make a difference while max dosed. Got my problems back when tapering.
Using Low Dose Naltrexone from sept. 2007. LDN is super! I am now in remission ;-)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1885
   Posted 1/8/2008 6:02 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes, immunosuppresants by definition suppress the immune system so not only are Crohn's patients on these meds more likely to get sick, when sick they are also likely to be sicker that others might be.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 407
   Posted 1/8/2008 8:32 PM (GMT -7)   
the way I have understood things is with crohns the immune system is really in over drive and basicaly attacking the body - it's ownself - you, the inflamation we have inside our guts, is really the body - thru the immune system - attacking it's self, trying to get rid of what it 'thinks' as being bad.
just as when a person has a virous, like flu - the imune system will attack the invading germs and kill it out, if it is unable to kill it, the body ends up with an infection - inflamation
immunosuppresants - suppress the the immune system response so it will not 'over react' and attack it's own body - but at the same time it suppress's the response to out side stuff as well and makes it harder to get rid of things like colds flu infections ect. and easier to get outside things too.
hope this helps
 May God Bless and keep you in his care.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1885
   Posted 1/8/2008 10:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Dixie made a lot of great points, most of which I agree with.
However, the overdrive theory was popular for a very long time, but now researchers are starting to look in another direction. In fact, within the past two years evidence has suggested that Crohn's patients have under-active immune systems, not overactive ones.
Why is why there are clinical trials going on right now that use meds that do NOT suppress the immune system. 
There is no question that Crohn's patients have dysfunctional immune systems. That something in the environment sets off a trigger and then inflammation sets in. However, it is possible that instead of having overactive systems, they have weak or at least inefficient systems. That an attack is mounted that might resolve itself easily in somebody who does not have Crohn's. But in a Crohn's patient, the attack is inneffectual...not strong enough to finish the job so instead you get stuck in the fester mode.   
The immunosuppresants do a good job of suppressing the damage that can be done by Crohn's. However, they are not just suppressing this action, but the  immune system for your entire body. A small minority of researchers have even speculated that the suppression of the Crohn's inflammation might not be good over the long run, because it does not really get to the root of what caused the inflammation, to begin with.  
I don't believe in the overdrive theory, because my daughter's immune system was terrible long before she had Crohn's.
Daughter (20) Dx'd Crohn's 3/06. Misdiagnosed for two years, including by top pediatric Crohn's specialist as stress and needing more fiber but landed in hospital in 3/06 with cramps, vomiting, stricture. Now in remission with Entocort 3 mg (one pill), SCD multivit, yogurt, vit D3 1800IU, 900+ mg calcium, 50 mg B complex vit, 25 mg iron. Off SCD diet but wheat was iffy so back on SCD modified to include potatos and rice.   

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 1/8/2008 10:33 PM (GMT -7)   
I always thought this:
Having crohn's doesnt make you have a lower immune system it generally means that you have an over active immune system therfore your white blood cell count tends to be higher. However when you go on medications such as imuran, 6-mp or prednisone your immune system becomes compromised because these drugs intentionally supress your immune system so that it doesn't attack your digestive system. If we had normal acting immune systems then disease wouldnt be an issue for us. However with recent research this idea may be different.

Diagnosed: 2003, age 18 (had issues with it since I was 12)
Meds for crohns: Prednisone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Remicade,
Other medical issues: Hereditary Spherocytosis (hemolytic anemia) iron deficient anemia, polyarthralgia, ovarian cysts, Migraines
Surgeries: Spleen, Gallbladder, Tonsils, Adenoids, foot of terminal Ileum, Appendix, Ileocecal valve, bit of colon

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/8/2008 10:45 PM (GMT -7)   
Actually, the whole autoimmune process is extremely complex. There is no good answer - if you're talking about autoimmune disease - whether your "immune system" is "overactive" or "underactive." I put all of those words in quotations because they are somewhat oversimplified. If you get right to it, the autoimmune immune response is actually hyperactive. Your body normally reacts to invaders by developing antibodies and fighting off the invaders. This is what happens when you get a vaccine - they give you a piece of virus that is dead/inactivated, your body mounts a response against it, and when it encounters that antigen (or foreign substance) again it will be able to mount a better attack. In autoimmune disease, your body starts looking at a piece of itself as a "foreigner" and wants to mount an attack. Hence the increase in white count, inflammation, etc. But this is what makes you feel so crappy. This "attack" of the "foreigners" is actually to blame for your symptoms - not the tissue itself.

It's very weird. Very, very, very complex. Different systems act different ways. There are some autoimmune diseases that act upon one single organ (like Hashimoto's), and others that seem to attack many (like lupus). We still have a lot to learn about autoimmune diseases. And we still don't know if Crohn's actually fits into that category yet.

The immunosuppressants many of you are on are likely to make you more susceptible to infection because they are actually attempting to decrease your body's (hyperactive) response.
Co-moderator - IBS Forum

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 1668
   Posted 1/9/2008 6:01 AM (GMT -7)   
It is confusing. Before my Daughter started Imuran and Remicade (immunomodulators) her immune system was horrible. She caught every bug/virus within 5 miles on top of dealing with Crohns/Colitis. Since Remicade and Imuran were started 4 years ago and she reached remission, she has been much, much healthier. Can't say she doesn't catch an occasional cold or bug, but she is able to kick it to the curb much faster and it doesn't linger on and on like before starting immunomodulators.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1885
   Posted 1/9/2008 10:24 AM (GMT -7)   
The following links help explain why people with Crohn's might actually have weak, rather than hyperactive, immune systems:

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 1/9/2008 11:51 AM (GMT -7)   

With all the research that is going on, it's really hard to say what causes Crohns disease.  Over the years, all they have been able to do it speculate on what causes this disease!  What is truly interesting, is that what may work(medication wise) for one person, may not neccessarily work for another...which seems odd.  Cause usually if a person has cancer...the treatment regimen, is fairly the same(of course depending on the severity of the cancer) But, I find it strange how this disease works, and I only wish that there was more money to fund the research.  I, myself am not one to get sick, and rarely ever get sick(colds/flu stuff).  My kids get sick, and I nurture them and take care of them, and never get what they have!  So, like I said, it varies from person to person, which is what makes the disease so unique!  We are unique people, with unique problems!  I guess that makes us special!!!  That's how I'm going to look at it! :)


31yr old female
1995-Crohns disease (removal of the terminal illeum and Cecum-followed by resection)
on and off flare ups/inflammation
1998-Duodenal ulcers(bleed out 1998/2005-blood transfusion)
2006-Anemia ( 2 Iron IV treatments)
2008-More Iron IV treatments 
meds-30mg prevacid, taking entocort briefly to satisfy my dr because he doesn't want to see me in the operating room! Other than that....It's day to day for me!!

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