Immunity – The Science of Staying Well. The state of protection from infectious disease (or) the condition that permits either natural or acquired resistance to disease. The immune system defends our body against invaders such as viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies. They are made up of a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect the body.
Immune response plays a vital role in protecting against infectious agents. It is a well-known fact that for virtually all infectious diseases, the number of individuals exposed to infection is much higher than those actually presenting with a disease. This indicates that most persons are able to destroy these microorganisms and thus prevent the progression of an infection.
By contrast immune deficiencies, whether of innate immunity (phagocytic cell dysfunction or complement deficiency) or adaptive immunity (antibody production deficiency or T-cell function deficiency), are strongly associated with increased susceptibility to infections.
The key players of the immune system
One of the most important players in our immune systems is the white blood cell, also called a leukocyte. Leukocytes patrol the blood and tissues throughout the body in search of intruders.
When they detect a foreign substance, they send out signals and launch an immune attack. These disease-fighting cells are made in the bone marrow and are stored in many different places in the body such as the tonsils and adenoids.
There are two types of leukocytes: phagocytes and lymphocytes. Phagocytes engulf the intruders, break them down and chew them up. Lymphocytes are further broken down into two more types. The B lymphocytes (or B-cells) create antibodies and alert the T lymphocytes (or T-cells) to kill the pathogens.
White blood cells are a part of the lymphatic system, a network of lymph vessels that collect excess fluids from tissues throughout the body and then return them to your bloodstream. The lymphatic system and lymph nodes (small bean-shaped organs clustered in the neck, armpits, abdomen and groin) act as filters and trap harmful germs.
If immune cells in the lymph node recognize pieces of a germ, they will activate, replicate and leave the lymph node in search of those harmful germs. Lymph nodes often become swollen due to an active immune response, which is why doctors check them for signs of infection.
Role of Immunity in combating various infections
Antibodies help the body to fight microbes or the toxins (poisons) they produce.
The complement system is made up of proteins whose actions complement the work done by antibodies.
The lymphatic system is a network of delicate tubes throughout the body. The main roles of the lymphatic system are to:
manage the fluid levels in the body
react to bacteria & deal with cancer cells
deal with cell products that otherwise would result in disease or disorders
absorb some of the fats in our diet from the intestine.
The spleen is a blood-filtering organ that removes microbes and destroys old or damaged red blood cells. It also makes disease-fighting components of the immune system (including antibodies and lymphocytes).
Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside your bones. It produces the red blood cells our bodies need to carry oxygen, the white blood cells we use to fight infection, and the platelets we need to help our blood clot
The thymus filters and monitors your blood content. It produces the white blood cells called T-lymphocytes.
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