Tag Archives: immune system

Just what is your immune system.

Overview of the Immune System
Function
The overall function of the immune system is to prevent or limit infection. An example of this principle is found in immune-compromised people, including those with genetic immune disorders, immune-debilitating infections like HIV, and even pregnant women, who are susceptible to a range of microbes that typically do not cause infection in healthy individuals.
The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of “danger” cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Cells may be unhealthy because of infection or because of cellular damage caused by non-infectious agents like sunburn or cancer. Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release another set of signals recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs

Neutrophil (green) ingesting Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (purple).

When the immune system first recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is sufficient need, problems arise, like infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems arise, such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.
The immune system is complex and pervasive. There are numerous cell types that either circulate throughout the body or reside in a particular tissue. Each cell type plays a unique role, with different ways of recognizing problems, communicating with other cells, and performing their functions. By understanding all the details behind this network, researchers may optimize immune responses to confront specific issues, ranging from infections to cancer.
Location
All immune cells come from precursors in the bone marrow and develop into mature cells through a series of changes that can occur in different parts of the body.
Skin: The skin is usually the first line of defense against microbes. Skin cells produce and secrete important antimicrobial proteins, and immune cells can be found in specific layers of skin.
Bone marrow: The bone marrow contains stems cells that can develop into a variety of cell types. The common myeloid progenitor stem cell in the bone marrow is the precursor to innate immune cells—neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, monocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages—that are important first-line responders to infection.
The common lymphoid progenitor stem cell leads to adaptive immune cells—B cells and T cells—that are responsible for mounting responses to specific microbes based on previous encounters (immunological memory). Natural killer (NK) cells also are derived from the common lymphoid progenitor and share features of both innate and adaptive immune cells, as they provide immediate defenses like innate cells but also may be retained as memory cells like adaptive cells. B, T, and NK cells also are called lymphocytes.
Bloodstream: Immune cells constantly circulate throughout the bloodstream, patrolling for problems. When blood tests are used to monitor white blood cells, another term for immune cells, a snapshot of the immune system is taken. If a cell type is either scarce or overabundant in the bloodstream, this may reflect a problem.
Thymus: T cells mature in the thymus, a small organ located in the upper chest.
Lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and tissues composed of lymph, an extracellular fluid, and lymphoid organs, such as lymph nodes. The lymphatic system is a conduit for travel and communication between tissues and the bloodstream. Immune cells are carried through the lymphatic system and converge in lymph nodes, which are found throughout the body.
Lymph nodes are a communication hub where immune cells sample information brought in from the body. For instance, if adaptive immune cells in the lymph node recognize pieces of a microbe brought in from a distant area, they will activate, replicate, and leave the lymph node to circulate and address the pathogen. Thus, doctors may check patients for swollen lymph nodes, which may indicate an active immune response.
Spleen: The spleen is an organ located behind the stomach. While it is not directly connected to the lymphatic system, it is important for processing information from the bloodstream. Immune cells are enriched in specific areas of the spleen, and upon recognizing blood-borne pathogens, they will activate and respond accordingly.
Mucosal tissue: Mucosal surfaces are prime entry points for pathogens, and specialized immune hubs are strategically located in mucosal tissues like the respiratory tract and gut. For instance, Peyer’s patches are important areas in the small intestine where immune cells can access samples from the gastrointestinal tract.​
Content last reviewed on December 30, 2013
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Alcohols Effects on the body

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.  Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:

Brain:
Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.

Heart:
Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

  • Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
  • Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Research also shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.

Liver:
Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:

  • Steatosis, or fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Pancreas:
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.

Cancer:
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Immune System:
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.  Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

Learn more about alcohol’s effects on the body.

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March is Lymphoedema awareness !

Lymphoedema? What is it?

LYMPH
Is a colourless fluid which forms in the body and drains into the blood through a network of vessels and nodes… This is helped by movement unlike the blood which is pumped by the heart.

OEDEMA
Swelling of fluid in the tissues.

LYMPH NODE or LYMPH GLAND
Is a pea size organ of the immune system. Lymph nodes are distributed throughout the body and are linked by lymphatic vessels. They act as filters and trap bacteria to protect against infection. Their main locations are neck, jaw, under the arms, in the region of the liver and the groin. Episodes of cellulitis occur when the lymphatics are compromised.
The lymphatic system, lymph vessels and lymph …

The lymphatic system, lymph vessels and lymph nodes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LYMPH VESSELS
Are tiny tubes that are present wherever there are blood vessels. Lymph vessels drain approximately 10% of fluid from the tissues of the body.How ever unlike the blood which is pumped by the heart the lymph system relies on movement to circulate through the vessels.

LYMPHOEDEMA
is a chronic swelling of a part or parts of the body caused by a an accumulation of fluid and protein in the tissues. It occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged. It commonly occurs in the arms or legs after removal of lymph nodes….but can occur anywhere in the body. It can be very debilitating and limbs may reach huge proportions and be very disfigured especially if left untreated.

TYPES OF LYMPHOEDEMA

Lymphoedema of leg

PRIMARY
Can occur when the lymphatic system is not fully developed. It commonly affects one or both legs but may occur in other parts of the body. May be congenital or develop Later in life. It may also be genetic.

SECONDARY
May develop due to damage to the lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes. It can occur anytime following surgery from days, months or years. It usually affects the arms or legs although it can affect the breast, head and neck, trunk or genital area. Risk factors include any surgical procedure where there is damage to the lymphatic system. Lymph node removal for biopsy, infection (cellulitis), mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, trauma, genetic or filariasis.

MIXED
Can be described as functional deterioration of the lymphatic system. It can be related to lipoedema, increased body mass index (BMI), obesity, immobility, venous disease, varicose vein surgery.

Lymmphoedema of arm following removal of lymph nodes for breast cancer

EARLY WARNING SIGNS
Tightness, swelling, pain, pins and needles, numbness, discomfort, infections…. Maybe one or more symptoms may be present. The first sign maybe that clothes become tighter on one limb…

This is is a link to information on Lymphoedema you may be interested in from Healthline
http://www.healthline.com/health/lymphatic-obstruction#

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Supporting people with invisible illnesses