Before we can talk about how the immune system works and keeps us alive, I will explain what the immune system is.
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that forms an army to protect us from invaders like viruses, bacteria’s and other organism that can cause infections.
If the immune system fails to do that and the invading germs are successfully attacking us we get sick.
That does not mean that the immune system cannot win eventually, but it might need to learn how to attack and eliminate this intruder. In many cases it will recognize the invading organism and know how to destroy it in an effective way.
In general the immune system does a very good job defending us against any organism that tries to make us sick.
The immune system has a few, what you could call, lines of defense.
First line of defense are mechanical and physical barriers
- The skin
- The cornea of the eyes
- Membranes in respiratory system
- Membranes in digestive system
- Membranes in urinary system
- Membranes in reproductive system
Those barriers will do their job as long as they are not broken or damaged. If one of them is broken the change of an infection will increase.
Second line of defense
The second line of defense involves the white blood cells. They are continues traveling through our bloodstream, organs, cells and tissues to look for attackers. So they can attack and destroy them
This second line of defense has two parts
- Innate immunity
This responds and attack to the invaders immediately without learning to recognize them.
- Acquire immunity
This defense system learns how they have to attack the invading organism and remembers how it did this for the next time.
Sometimes a video can make it a lot easier to understand.
Reason to learn how our immune system works is that if you want to improve your immune system, you have to know what it does an how it response to everything that enters your body.
Importance of the immune system
This might gross you out a little, but will explain how important the immune system is.
If something dies the immune system is not active anymore. In a time frame of a few hours all kind of bacteria, parasites and microbes will invade the body.
None of them would be able to do that while the immune system is up and running.
It is only a matter of time and the whole body is broken down and all that is left is a skeleton.
This makes it clear that the immune system is doing something amazing and is keeping us basically alive.
Immune system disorders
There are four types of immune system disorders.
- Deficiency disorder. The body is not able to defend itself against antigens
- Autoimmune disorder. The body attack its own healthy tissues
- Allergic disorder. A reaction to allergens that have no effect on most people.
- Cancer of the immune system.
Organs that are part of the immune system
These are small bean shaped and they produce and store cells that fight infections and are part of the lymphatic system.
The spleen is the largest lymphatic organ in our body and is on your left side under your ribs and above your stomach. It contains white blood cells to fight infections and diseases and it is also helping the body regulate the amount of blood in the body and get rid of damaged blood cells.
Bone marrow is a yellow colored tissue in the center of our bones.
This tissue produces white blood cells. They also contain stem cells.
This is many times an overlooked part of the immune system. It is placed beneath the breastbone and shaped like a thyme leave. It can trigger and maintain the production of anti-bodies to prevent muscle weakness, and can help to destroy cancerous cells.
Leukocytes in our immune system
One of the most important parts of the immune system are the leukocytes.
Leukocytes are the white blood cells that work with the immune system to defend our body against diseases.
This means that if a blood test show a high count of leukocytes there probably is an infection in your body. Urine tests are also used to find out if there is an elevated count of leukocytes.
The leukocytes fight the infection and when they are damaged or killed during this fight the body get rid of them in your urine. That is why a urine test is effective. There are 5 different types of leukocytes that are part of our immune system.
Thy all have their own role. Their percentage in our body can fluctuate depending on how healthy we are. The names and percentages of the leukocytes are:
- Neutrophils – between 40 and 75%
- Eosinophils – between 1 and 6%
- Basophils – less than 1%
- Lymphocyte – between 20 and 45%
- Monocyte – between 2 and 10%
Now we know a little more about the immune system and how it works it is obvious that we have to take very good care of our immune system.
Without an immune system that protects us from all the micro-organism that try to attack us day and night, we are doomed to be sick and probably die real fast.
There are many ways we can help our immune system perform as good as possible and we will talk about that in many other articles on our website.