An overview of the immune system
Germs beware... The body fights back! The immune system is a collection of cells and organs that work together to protect the body from microscopic invaders. To many germs, the human body provides a perfect environment to live and reproduce. Our immune system is designed to keep germs out and to destroy the ones that make it inside. Otherwise, these germs can cause an infection or make us sick.
Inside our bodies, we have an elite team of germ-fighting cells patrolling our bodies at all times. These are called white blood cells. Once a germ is detected, a chemical alarm is sent to massive numbers of other immune cells. Reinforcements are sent quickly by way of the bloodstream to mount an attack. There are places in the body where immune cells like to work together in large groups. These are the organs of the immune system and include the spleen, lymph nodes, appendix, thymus, tonsils, and adenoids.
Often, germs attack in large enough numbers to create a problem for the immune system. They can enter our bodies and reproduce faster than we can destroy them. The battle becomes so fierce, that damage occurs to the surrounding tissue. This causes inflammation and pain. But don't be fooled... inflammation and pain are actually good. They let us know that our body is fighting the germs and that we should rest or take medicine until the battle is won.
One of the most impressive talents of the immune system is the ability to tell the difference between bad and good cells. When the immune system makes mistakes and attacks good cells, an autoimmune disease can result. Some examples of autoimmune diseases are certain types of diabetes, arthritis and lupus.
Allergies are the result of a hyperactive immune system. Substances like pollen, cat hair, or poison ivy can cause some people's immune systems to launch an unnecessary attack that results in itching or a runny nose.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 21 July 2009 15:07)