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All About Your Immune System by Vitality Medical

"Immunity" is a special word that means "protection from something." People can have immunity from different things. If someone has immunity from a disease, this means that the person has protection from catching it. The body's immune system is an important medical defense that works hard to keep people healthy. With a strong immune system, your body should be able to help you avoid getting sick and help you get better when you do get sick.

The immune system has many different smaller systems working together to keep the body healthy. Proteins and cells make up tissues and organs that all work together as a strong defense network for good health. To understand the immune system, you might think of the human body as a big castle. The body has a super system that is designed to help stop germs, bacteria, and other organisms from invading. Much like kings in history used walls around their kingdoms to protect them from invaders, the body has skin that works as a strong barrier. Special glands in the skin actually kill some bacteria, which can minimize minor infections. It's also common for germs to invade the body through the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. The body has special features that can minimize these attacks. Mucous membranes in the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs help prevent germs from invading the body. Tears in the eyes and saliva in the mouth also have chemicals that neutralize germs. Even the stomach has powerful acids that can keep germs from making people sick.

White blood cells are an important part of a strong immune system. White blood cells are also called leukocytes. The body makes white blood cells in various places, such as your bone marrow, your thymus, and your spleen. Lymph nodes located throughout the body are also storage places for leukocytes. Mature white blood cells in the blood are called neutrophils. The body uses these cells as important fighters against disease and infections. Neutrophils can get rid of harmful things like bacteria, waste, and foreign substances in the body. Macrophages are another type of white blood cell. These special cells eat foreign materials that could be present in organs and in connective tissues in the body. When macrophages work, they get rid of these dangerous microorganisms that can cause people to get sick. The blood also has another type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes have special fighting powers against invading organisms to keep a body healthy. Lymphocytes defend against dangerous tumors that sometimes happen when tissues grow faster and bigger than they should.

The immune system is incredibly smart because it can tell which are the harmful bacteria and which bacteria can be good for the body. Good bacteria live in the intestines, helping food digest so the body gets the nutrients it needs. Good bacteria can also live on the skin. By allowing these helpful bacteria to stay in and on the body, people stay healthier. When a germ or bacteria invades the body, the immune system realizes this quickly. Lymphocytes are ready and waiting to neutralize these invaders with special protein antibodies. Even after the antibodies do the immediate work of protecting the body, they stay on to make sure that the invaders don't return to cause trouble in the future. For example, when someone catches chicken pox, antibodies remain in the body to prevent chicken pox from happening a second time. Antibodies also work with other types of cells that kill poisons in the body. One powerful kind of cell, called T cells, actually hunts down germs that might be hiding in the body to kill them.

It's common for everyone to get sick from time to time. Just because you get sick doesn't mean that you don't have a working immune system. Sometimes the body wins and you fight off an illness before it starts, and other times, you get sick. You can tell that your immune system is working because you will get healthy again even if you do get sick.

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