IMMUNE SYSTEM & ITS FUNCTIONS

For the past one and half year, coronavirus has been playing havoc in everyone’s lives. Being a respiratory disease and a contagious one, it has been spreading at a deadly pace and infecting millions of people worldwide. Personal protective equipment like a face mask, isolation gowns, PPE kits, hand gloves are recommended to stay protected from the infection. However, if your immunity power is less, you are vulnerable to infections. Not only the coronavirus infection but most of the infections can be prevented if your immune system is strong. So let’s find out what is the immune system and how does it protect us from infections.

What Is Immune System?

The immune system is a complex network of cells and tissues in the human body that protects the body from infections. Every day you come across several bacteria, virus, parasites, etc., but if you still stay protected that’s because of your immune system. When the immune system detects a foreign body or an antigen coming into contact with the human body, it releases antibodies and kills or neutralizes the germs. If your immune system is strong enough, you can stay protected from various infections. On the contrary, if your immune system is weakened, you become vulnerable to several infections and inflammations. The immune system also recognizes and removes dead and faulty cells from the body.

What Is Immune System?

As already mentioned, the immune system is not a single organ but a complex network of cells, organs and tissues. It is made up of the following parts.

  1. White Blood Cells (WBCs)
  2. Antibodies
  3. Bone Marrow
  4. Lymphatic System
  5. Spleen
  6. Thymus

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system carries lymph through the body similar to how blood vessels carry blood through the body. Lymph is a fluid that has been drained from the body compartments and is rich in immune system cells. This fluid collects the pathogens and debris from the tissues and moves to the lymph nodes where the filtration takes place.
Functions of the lymphatic system is to manage the fluid levels in the body, and destroy the pathogens and cancerous cells. The lymphatic system contains lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and white blood cells.

Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes are located at the base of the neck, armpit and groin. These are usually present at the body openings such as the digestive tract and genital regions as these areas are more prone to germ encounter. These nodes are densely packed with immune cells like macrophages that trap the foreign substances coming along with the lymph fluid and destroy the pathogens. Thus the outgoing lymph is 99% cleared of all the pathogens and foreign substances.

Lymphatic Vessels

Lymphatic vessels carry the filtered fluid from lymph nodes towards the heart.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside your bones responsible for creating various types of immune cells. There is one common stem cell in the bone marrow, maturing into different types of cells, like red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Lymphocytes

Some of the stem cells mature into a type of immune stem cell known as lymphocytes. There are two types of lymphocytes – B cells and T cells.

B Cells: The stem cells that mature in the bone marrow are called the ‘B’ cells.

T Cells: Some stem cells travel from bone marrow to the thymus via the bloodstream, maturing into immune cells in the thymus. Hence they are named ‘T’ cells.

Thymus

The thymus is a lymphoid organ located in the lower part of the neck and front of the chest. The outside of the thymus contains lymphoid stem cells that mature into T cells.

Spleen

Located behind the stomach and in front of the diaphragm, it is the largest internal organ of the immune system containing a large number of immune system cells. The spleen filters pathogens from the blood, and when a pathogen is detected, the immune system cells are activated to neutralize the pathogens. Spleen works the best against bacteria such as pneumococcus and meningococcus.

White Blood Cells

White blood cells are the crucial part of the immune system made in the bone marrow. WBCs run throughout your body, and when a foreign substance or pathogen is detected, it initiates an immune attack. B cells and T cells constitute the White Blood Cells.

How Does Your Immune System Protect You?

The immune system launches an immune attack whenever a pathogen or a foreign invader is detected. Antibodies are created that neutralize or kill the germs. Also, a memory cell gets created that stores the information about the germ it has encountered. This is known as immunological memory. Now, if a similar germ attacks you in the future, the immune system recognizes it and kills it at once. This is the process carried out by the immune system to defend a body from germs and infections.

Vaccines are given to immunizing people when a pandemic or epidemic is spread around. When you get vaccinated, your body and the immune system get introduced to the weakened or dead form of the germ against which the vaccine had been administered. Even the coronavirus vaccine will do the same and protect you from the Covid-19 infection.

Types of Immunity

Immunity is your body or immune system’s capability to defend your body against germ attack. This immunity is of two types- Innate immunity and Acquired immunity.
Innate Immunity: This is the immunity that is inborn right from birth.
Acquired Immunity: This immunity is developed by a person over the lifetime either via vaccines or exposure to infection.

You would have got an idea of what constitutes your immune system and how it protects you from infections. Along with immunity, it is necessary to follow the safety guidelines and wear personal protective equipment to stay protected from infections. Visit https://www.ppezones.com to buy the safety equipment.

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