With so much uncertainty about health and wellbeing, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have probably been hearing a great deal about your immune system and the importance of keeping it strong and healthy. But do you know much about it?
What Is Your Immune System?
Your immune system is a complex network of tissue, cells, and organs tasked with keeping out harmful germs, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. If your immune system identifies something in your body that is potentially harmful, it triggers the release of the necessary cells to attack the harmful cell and eliminate it.
Infections spread in various ways, so your immune system has to be ready to identify them quickly. Some of the ways infections can enter your body include:
- Touching the Skin
- Bodily Fluids
- Breathing in Droplets from Coughs & Sneezes
- Insect Bites
- Blood Transmission
- Shared Needles
Your First Line of Defense
The skin is one of your body’s first lines of defense against germs and infection. However, if you have a cut, sore, or burn that has created an opening in the skin, it leaves an opportunity for infection. That’s one of the reasons why handwashing is so important, particularly these days when we are still fighting off the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to washing your hands and using hand gel, the body has a few defense mechanisms of its own! For example, sweat on your skin, or tears in your eyes can help wash away germs attempting to enter the body. Your nose has mucus for this same purpose.
How Do We Build Up Immunity?
As soon as you are born, even before you encounter unfamiliar antigens and germs, you can already defend yourself from infection. This comes from the natural barriers and special cells that we all have. However, over time we also learn new defenses. Acquired immunity can come in response to colds, viruses, and even vaccines.
What Happens When the Immune System Goes Wrong?
Although the immune system is designed to protect our bodies from infection and disease, some people have a dysfunctional immune system. For example, when an individual suffers from an allergic reaction, the immune system is overreacting to something that wouldn’t usually be dangerous. Similarly, if you have a weakened immune response because of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, or lupus, your immune system can overreact and attack healthy tissue instead of diseased ones.
Boosting Your Immune System
The stronger your immune system is, the better prepared you will be to fight off illnesses. There are several things that you can do to give it a boost. Some of these include:
- Making time to relax and unwind
- Owning a pet
- Be more sociable
- Laugh more
- Eat colorful fruits and vegetables
- Exercise daily
- Get plenty of sleep
Your Hometown Pharmacy Since 1966
Vaughn Pharmacy is a local, family-owned pharmacy serving the community in Powell, TN. Specializing in providing personalized and attentive prescription programs to our patients, we believe you are more than just a number – you’re part of our family!