- What is the Immune System?
The Immune System is a series of special cells and chemicals that helps our body fight off infection and unwanted bacteria. The Immune System contains white blood cells which are made in the bone marrow.
What are white blood cells? White blood cells make up only one percentage of your blood but they are essential for your health and protection against disease and illness. Imagine you’re at a war and the white blood cells are your soldiers. Because that’s exactly what they are. Loyal soldiers that will fight for you until they’re dead. But don’t worry your bone will keep producing white blood cells so even if some die you’ll always get plenty more.
- How does the Immune System work? The Immune System works by keeping a record of every virus it has ever defeated so if the virus attacks again the Immune System can get rid of it quickly.
How does the Immune System keep record of every virus it has ever defeated? The Immune System is a superior memory bank which is why you only get the measles or chicken pox once.
- How does the Immune System help us?
- Our skin is a waterproof barrier that makes oil that can kill some bacteria.
- Your lungs are designed to trap mucus and push it out of your body (coughing it out).
- Your stomach is filled with acid that can be used to kill most viruses.
- Skin oil, saliva and tears contain anti-bacterial enzymes that reduces the risk of infection.
- What can we do to make our Immune System stronger?
- Don’t smoke
- Have a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise every day for the same amount of time.
- Keep a healthy weight (weighing too little is just as bad and sometimes worse than weighing too much).
- Control your blood pressure
- Avoid alcohol
- Get enough sleep
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cook meat thoroughly
Some interesting facts:
- The common cold can be caused by many different viruses so it has to be fought many times.
- Fever is actually caused by the Immune System. A rise in temperature can kill some viruses. It can also trigger the body’s repair process.
- But the Immune System is not infallible:
- Allergies are just the Immune System feeling threatened by harmless substances.
- Autoimmunity is the Immune System attacking the body’s own structure when it fails to recognise the structure (eg Lupus erythematosus).
- Rheumatoid arthritis is the Immune System attacking the joints (causing inflammation and swelling).