How To Normalize an Overactive Immune System

What is an overactive immune system?

Have you ever thought about what causes common diseases such as eczema and asthma? The answer is down to an overactive immune system if you have a specific combination of genetics, then your regular immune system can respond to environmental materials that do not usually pose a risk. These materials are called allergens, and examples include foods, dust, pollen, and mold.1 

Causes of an overactive immune system

It has been established that a person’s genetics can contribute to an overactive immune system, but genetics alone cannot entirely cause autoimmune diseases.2 Additionally, when people become older, the ability to suitably respond to stressors decreases. Stressors include physical factors such as people injuring themselves, or psychological stressors like changes in relationships.3,4 The stress hormone cortisol is produced in response to stress and normally reduces inflammation as part of the immune response.

However, as people age and cortisol levels increase, their immune system becomes resistant to cortisol, increasing inflammation and the amount of stress hormones present. Cytokines are proteins that are involved in the immune response and act as chemical messengers to alert the body to make more immune cells when necessary. When cytokine production begins to increase out of control, a ‘cytokine storm’ can ensue, and this storm can lead to severe organ damage and even result in death.3,5

White cells and the autoimmune system

White blood cells are responsible for regulating the body’s immune system. Innate immunity is the body’s primary response to invading foreign substances. When the innate immune system is overstimulated, it can lead to autoaggression, where the body attacks its own cells during its immune response.6 Antibodies are cells produced by B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and play a role in the secondary immune response.7 Autoantibodies are antibodies that recognise a person’s body cells, and consequently can play a part in autoimmune diseases.8

Symptoms of low immunity

Common signs of low immunity include constantly having the breathing tubes, ears, and sinuses infected. Patients with a deficient immune system may also be more susceptible to contracting bacterial infections, and have anemia due to their red blood cells being destroyed.9 Low immunity can also cause patients to experience autoimmunity and the growth of tumours.10

Immunity disorders

The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that produces thyroid hormones to manage the body’s energy supply.11 Hyperthyroidism is a disorder where the body produces more thyroid hormones than necessary. If there is an excess of thyroid hormone, then several of the body’s functions become more rapid. An overactive thyroid is caused by another condition known as Graves disease, which can impact the eyes and skin.13

This disorder can produce a lump in the neck called a goiter.13 If hyperthyroidism is not dealt with, it can result in an inconsistent heartbeat and even heart failure. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism involve weight loss, constant bowel movements, having trouble sleeping, and a goiter.12

Another issue related to the thyroid gland is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This condition may present in patients who have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). This is because antibodies harm thyroid cells, which means that the thyroid is unable to make a sufficient amount of hormones.14

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immunity disorder where a patient’s immune system targets nerve cells in the myelin, which protects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. There are various types of multiple sclerosis, and they are differentiated by their range of relapse and remission times. MS can take away a person’s coordination and balance skills, and can bring on muscle weakness. In severe cases, patients may find it hard to walk, and may have memory problems.15

Testing for immunity disorders

When diagnosing hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, a medical professional will check medical history and perform a physical examination. Due to hyperthyroidism having symptoms similar to many other diseases, the condition cannot be diagnosed solely based on symptoms. Hence, a range of thyroid imaging tests and blood tests will be done to affirm a diagnosis for the patient.

For MS, a test called an evoked potentials test can also be carried out, which assesses how well nerves are functioning by assessing activity in the spinal cord and the brain.15

Treatments for immunity disorders

Hyperthyroidism is dealt with by aiming to bring the level of thyroid hormones in a patient’s blood to normal. This can be done through medication and surgery.12 

With Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the ideal treatment will be made for patients according to the severity of their condition, how well the specific patient reacts to the appropriate medication or therapies, age, medical history, and a person’s own preference.14

For multiple sclerosis, no cure has been discovered. Management of the condition involves attempting to reduce the number of instances where symptoms worsen, and aiming to stay physically healthy and strong to keep up a person’s mobile strength. Patients with multiple sclerosis also may receive counseling for their mental wellbeing.15 

Natural methods to strengthen your immune system

As always, exercise and a healthy diet are beneficial for a person’s health in general, and therefore your immune system will organically be better. Having a healthy balanced diet will help make you less prone to infectious diseases.17 A study identified that people who took Vitamin D supplements had a noticeably decreased chance of developing autoimmune diseases in comparison to those who took placebos.18 As Vitamin D is useful against inflammation, researchers were curious as to whether the supplement was also protective against autoimmune diseases, which it has proved to be.18 

Eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C is also an effective way to strengthen the immune system, as we don’t make or store it ourselves. Foods that contain a lot of Vitamin C include strawberries, oranges, spinach, and kale.19


Ultimately, it is nearly impossible to actively try to avoid getting autoimmune diseases, as factors like our genetics are out of our control.2 However, stress can play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases as well. It is thus important to maintain a stress-free lifestyle as much as possible. Although a definitive cure has not been found for many immunity diseases, scientists are consistently persevering in identifying new remedies and ways to combat these diseases.


  1. John Hopkins Medicine. Disorders of the Immune System [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  2. John Hopkins Medicine.Autoimmune Disease: Why Is My Immune System Attacking Itself?[Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  3. Morey JN, Boggero IA, Scott AB, Segerstrom SC. Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Curr Opin Psychol. 2015 Oct; Cited Jul 2022. 1;5:13-17. Available from: doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007. 
  4. Schneiderman N, Ironson G, Siegel SD. Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2005; Cited Jul 2022. 1:607-28.Available from: doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141. 
  5. Pfizer. Inside a Cytokine Storm: When Your Immune System is Too Strong [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  6. Blach-Olszewska Z, Leszek J. Mechanisms of over-activated innate immune system regulation in autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. Jun 2007; Cited Jul 2022. Jun;3(3):365-72 Available from: PMID: 19300567
  7. Brittanica. Antibody [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  8. Lab Tests Online. Autoantibodies [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  9. Immune Deficiency Foundation. CVID Community Center [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  10. Raje N, Dinakar C. Overview of Immunodeficiency Disorders. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2015 Nov; Cited Jul 2022. 35(4):599-623. Available from: doi: 10.1016/j.iac.2015.07.001. 
  11.  NHS. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  12.  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (Overactive Thyroid) [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022.
  13. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Graves’ Disease [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  14. John Hopkins Medicine. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  15.  Cleveland Clinic. Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  16. American College of Rheumatology. Rheumatoid Arthritis [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  17.  Harvard Health Publishing. How to boost your immune system [Internet]. Feb 2021; cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  18.  The Harvard Gazette. Vitamin D supplements lower risk of autoimmune disease, researchers say[Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
  19. Cleveland Clinic. 3 Vitamins to Boost Your Immunity [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Marya Waseem

BSc Biomedical Science Student, University of Reading, England
Biomedical Science with Professional Experience student at University of Reading. Currently seeking a placement in research and development for 2023/24.
Klarity Health Medical Writer
English Language and Literature tutor from KS1 to GCSE level.

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