Immune System

Immune System

During an allergic reaction, your immune system is responding to a false alarm that it perceives as a threat.

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The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body against infection and maintain overall health.

The human body is an optimal environment for pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites to thrive. The immune system works to limit these microbes' access to the body and prevent them from growing and causing illness.

While most people know the basic function of the immune system, there are many intricacies about your body's natural defense system that you may not be aware of.

"Think of the immune system like the military," says Dat Tran, MD, an immunologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "There are different branches that each serve a unique function in protecting the body."

The first line of defense, Dr. Tran says, is the white blood cells, which are the first to recognize pathogens and fight off infection. Lymphocytes, a specific type of white blood cells, work to allow the body to remember the invading microbes to fight them faster in future infections.

Vaccines play an important role in educating your immune system.

Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against a foreign invader without actually infecting the individual with the disease. As a result, when the body encounters that infection in the future, it knows how to fight it off.

Every day, we encounter billions of germs, but they're not all bad.

Though it may not be pleasant to think about, countless microbes live on and in our bodies, and they are actually necessary to maintain good health.

Stress can affect the way your immune system works.

Stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone that is important for the overall function of our body; but too much of it can lead to a number of health problems, including decreased immunity.

Positive emotions and a healthy lifestyle may boost your immunity.

Some research suggests that optimism can actually make our immune system work better.

Sleep deprivation can impact immunity.

Not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on the body, and the immune system is no exception. Studies show that a lack of sleep may make you more likely to catch a cold and also makes it more difficult to fight off infection.

Allergies are the result of your immune system reacting to a false alarm.

When you experience an allergic reaction, your immune system is responding to a harmless allergen that it perceives as a threat. Symptoms of an allergic reaction, which can range from a runny nose to breaking out in hives to fainting, are a result of the body's misguided attack.

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