How Your Immune System Works Detailed Article
Your immune system is an interactive network of organs, white blood cells, and proteins that protect your body from viruses and bacteria or indeed any foreign substances.
Every minute of every hour of every day we are constantly coming in contact with dangerous organisms that we breathe or swallow, or that stick to our skin or our mucous membranes. If these were not for our defensive system, these would be a disease caused by pathogens.
When our system is functioning properly, we do not even notice these infectious agents. But when our immune system is manipulated, that is, it is weak or hyperactive, we develop infections or other medical conditions.
How does this defensive system work
Your immune system (1) neutralizes and removes pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body, (2) detect and neutralize harmful substances from the environment, and (3) the body’s Fights against her cells which is changing due to a disease.
Whether these pathogens or other harmful substances penetrate and cause disease are both a result of pathogenicity (ie, how toxic they are) and the integrity of your body’s defense mechanisms.
The essential function of this system in protecting your body is best illustrated when it goes wrong … Underactivity (or immunodeficiency) can cause overactivity in severe infections and tumors, and allergies and autoimmune diseases.
If our immune system works properly for our protection, we never pay attention to it. But when its performance is compromised, we develop diseases.
For this to be able to function properly it must be able to distinguish between two types of cells, organisms and substances … ‘self’ and ‘non-self’.
Etc self refers to cells inside your body etc… self non self refers to foreign body, cells, etc. coming from outside your body… These are called antigens.
Your immune system can normally differentiate between your own cells and antigens. For example, the protein on the surfaces of your own cells will be different from the proteins on the surfaces of antigens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The system can detect these different proteins. Once it detects antigens, it will attack to destroy them.
There are two parts of your immune system:
A basic system that acts as a general defense system against pathogens (disease causing organisms), and
An adaptive system that remembers specific pathogens with which it had already had contact and would attack them if they reappeared.
As you can see, the system adapts itself and learns so it can fight bacteria or viruses that change over time. The two parts of your immune system complement each other in their responses to a pathogen.
Immune system breakdown
This system, like any other system, can break. This can happen in several ways:
Instead of working normally against the antigens that enter your body, your system can overreact … this is called an excessive immune response.
The system, due to damage, reacts very slowly against invading pathogens … This is called immune deficiency.
The system accidentally starts attacking your own body cells… this is called an autoimmune attack.
As a result, your immune system may suffer from several major disorders. for an example:
1] Allergy … An allergy is an immune system’s response to a foreign substance that is not harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergies. They may include certain foods, pollen, or pet food.
The job of your immune system is to keep you healthy by fighting harmful pathogens. It attacks anything it thinks can endanger your body. Depending on the allergen, this reaction may include a host of swelling, sneezing, or other symptoms.
The system normally adjusts to your environment. For example, when your body encounters something like pollen, it should feel that it is harmless. People who are allergic to polluting the immune system consider it a threat to the body as an external invader and attack it, leading to inflammation.
This can result in one or more allergic diseases such as food allergy, asthma, hay fever or dermatitis.
2] Immune Deficiency Disease … A weak defensive system will prevent your body from fighting infections and diseases. This type of disorder makes it easy for you to catch virus and bacterial infection.
Immune disorders are either congenital or acquired. Congenital, or primary, disorder is the one with which you were born. Acquired, or secondary, disorder that you get later in life. Acquired disorders are more common than congenital disorders.
Anything that weakens your immune system can cause a secondary immunodeficiency disorder. Examples include… exposure to HIV-infected body fluids… increasing age… diabetes… eating too little protein… too little sleep… cancer and chemotherapy drugs… even more а lot.
System disturbances can cause infections that can endanger your life.
3] Autoimmune diseases … An autoimmune reaction is one in which your immune system accidentally attacks your body. It is caused by an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system is part of mistakes, such as your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.
Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), affect the entire body.
Researchers do not know exactly what causes the immune system to misfire. Some people are more likely to have an autoimmune disease than others … The rate in women is double among men … Some autoimmune diseases are more common in some ethnic groups … Some autoimmune diseases run in families.
As the incidence of autoimmune diseases is increasing, researchers suspect environmental factors such as infection and exposure to chemicals or solvents. Western diets of high-fat, high-sugar and highly processed foods can be linked to inflammation that can set off an immune response.
According to the hygiene hypothesis, vaccines and antiseptics mean that children today are not exposed to as many germs as they were in the past, thus making their immune system at risk of overgrowth for harmless substances.
Strengthen the immune system
As a type 2 diabetic, your immune system is very weak and you need to take care to make it stronger than most. You can do this:
These are discussed in my next article… How to strengthen your immune system