The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) kills the white blood cells of the immune system known as CD4 lymphocytes (type of T cells). If the T-cell count falls below a certain level, HIV can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This is why it is so important to keep up with healthy lifestyle practices that will boost your overall health.
In the current era, managing complications associated with HIV is much more effective than in the past. As long as you work closely with your doctor and follow smart lifestyle habits, you can live a full life with HIV. The following 5 ways to keep healthy with HIV will help you to stay proactive with your health.
Maintain a Well-Balanced, Healthy Diet
Not surprisingly, a healthy diet is key in improving the strength of your immune system. This is true for everyone, regardless of whether you have HIV or not, but is especially important for people with suppressed immune systems, such as those with HIV. Eating a well-balanced diet that is focused on nutrient-rich foods can help control the symptoms of HIV while strengthening the immune system and slowing down the progression of HIV.
Maintain Oral Health
People with HIV often run into dental problems due to factors such as HIV medications and a weakened immune system. This is why it is important to be extra vigilant about maintaining your oral health if you have HIV. Brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist at least twice a year will reduce your risk of fever blisters, canker sores, oral warts, oral thrush, dry mouth, and cavities. Individuals with HIV are at risk for all of these oral health problems, but can dramatically reduce their risk by caring for their overall health, which must include paying attention to oral health habits.
Finding out that you have HIV can cause a chronic state of stress. Chronic stress can take a toll on the function of the immune system and have a negative impact on many other aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing. Therefore, people with HIV should make a concerted effort at finding ways to reduce stress. Meditation, counseling, exercise, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are just a few ways to effectively manage stress if practiced on a regular basis.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
Since alcohol and drugs can take a toll on the immune system, it is especially important for people with HIV to avoid these substances. The use of alcohol and drugs can also sidetrack people with HIV from focusing on healthy habits such as proper nutrition and taking HIV medications. In addition, alcohol and drugs may interfere with the effect of HIV medications, and can even cause dangerous interactions with HIV medications.
Regular Doctor Visits
Make sure that you are under the care of a doctor who is specially trained to treat people with HIV. Medication regimens and treatment methods for HIV can be quite complex. By finding a doctor who understands these complexities and who will work closely with you to maintain your health, you will be able to live a life that is as free of complications as possible.
Once you have found a doctor you feel confident in, be sure to schedule regular visits. This will help to determine if any changes in your health—positive or negative—have occurred. Your doctor will then be able to make changes to your treatment plan as necessary so that you can optimize your health over time. Between visits to your doctor, continue to maintain healthy lifestyle practices, including taking care of your body and emotional wellbeing, so that you can live a rewarding life regardless of HIV.
By Valerie Johnson - Healthline
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.