Flu Shot Less Effective for the Obese

Patients that have undergone weight loss surgery in Michigan may be experiencing more benefits than they original sought after. This is because the weight loss that the bariatric surgery helped them to attain offers a slew of benefits of its own. One of these secondary benefits is a strengthened immune system, and with this a more effective response to the flu shot.

The immune response and the creation of antibodies that should come with a flu shot are much less effective in obese people than in people of normal weight. Some doctors believe that being obese in the first place compromises the immune system. One study found that CD8+ T cells, which are white blood cells important to the immune system, don’t work as well in obese people. When these white blood cells are defective, any sort of illness can be more severe than it would otherwise be.

Some doctors have suggested that obese patients should get not one, but two flu shots every year. They should get one early in the fall, then another after New Year’s. Flu season tends to be in the winter when the air is cold and dry. Flu is caused by a virus and a virus is so tiny that even the normal humidity in the air of a warm day can easily destroy it.

Other modalities might also have to be employed to make sure that obese patients are protected from the flu, though the best defense against a weakened immune system caused by obesity is for the patient to lose weight. Unlike the common cold, the flu can be a very serious disease and in the U.S. its complications kill between 36,000 and 52,000 people every year. It’s especially hard on people whose immune systems are impaired, making many obese individuals incredibly susceptible to the flu.


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