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Could a year of social distancing weaken your immune system?

Posted at 9:58 AM, Jul 01, 2021

Could a year of social distancing and mask-wearing make your immune system weaker?

We asked that question to ABC15’s Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

He says a healthy immune system depends on being exposed to germs, and a year of not having that exposure can make your immune system a little rusty.

He says urgent care clinics and doctors' offices are now seeing more cases of routine colds, viral infections, and stomach problems. He expects that to continue until more people can build their immune systems back up.

“Basically, what’s happened is our immune systems have become de-conditioned to a certain extent,” said Dr. Marvasti. “Also, there haven’t been many germs out there, outside of COVID, because COVID kind of took over the whole scene if you think about a competition between germs in terms of trying to get a hold on hosts of people.”

To keep your immune system strong while traveling this summer, he recommends wiping down surfaces before touching them, using hand sanitizer regularly, and wearing a mask if you’re in a large crowd.

How to prevent sickness

He also recommends getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, avoiding overeating, watching what you eat, and watching how much alcohol you’re consuming.

“Alcohol can actually lower your immunity pretty much within 30 minutes after you have a drink, for up to two to six hours after that,” he said. “So, make sure to limit drinking, especially if you feel run down or you feel like you’ve been exposed.”