Immune System

Immune System

Immune and lymphatic system health is necessary for protecting your body from germs and diseases. Known as the bodys first line of defense, your immune system and lymphatic system help protect you from bacteria, viruses and fungi that cause disease. Your lymphatic system produces and carries white blood cells containing antibodies that fight off infection. Your lymphatic system transports and destroys dead or damaged cells and cancer cells, removing these substances from the blood stream. Problems with your immune and lymphatic system can result in various diseases. A weakened immune system can lead to diseases including cancer, the flu and chronic fatigue syndrome. An overactive immune system can lead to diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), Huntingdons disease and lupus. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakes harmless substances for threats and attacks these harmless substances.

Recently Answered

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    AJohn Lipman, MD, Vascular & Interventional Radiology, answered
    The immune system is the body’s tool to fight infections and other foreign material that gets into our body. The skin, liver, spleen, kidneys, bloodstream and lymphatic system (a network of thin tubes that travel with blood vessels and contain white blood cells that attack bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders like cancer cells) are most important in protecting our immunity to these foreign agents. Impairment of any of these organs (for example, liver failure, poor skin quality and predisposition to wounds/sores) will result in an impaired or weaker immune system. Poor nutrition and poor overall health status are significant contributors to a weakened immune system.

    An impaired immune system may be present at birth (primary immunodeficiency) or acquired through disease (AIDS) or medication (steroids, chemotherapy or transplant medication to prevent rejection). The immune system can also turn against us (auto-immune diseases) and cause illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes or lupus.
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    Immunosuppressants are drugs or medicines that lower the body's ability to reject a transplanted organ. Another term for these drugs is antirejection drugs. There are two types of immunosuppressants:
    • induction drugs: powerful antirejection medicine used at the time of transplant
    • maintenance drugs: antirejection medications used for the long term
    Think of a real estate mortgage; the down payment is like the induction drug and the monthly payments are like maintenance drugs. If the down payment is good enough, you can lower the monthly payments; the same as for immunosuppression.

    There are usually four classes of maintenance drugs:
    • calcineurin inhibitors: tacrolimus and cyclosporine
    • antiproliferative agents: mycophenolate mofetil, mycophenolate sodium and azathioprine
    • mTOR inhibitor: sirolimus
    • steroids: prednisone
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    ADianne McCallister, MD, Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of The Medical Center of Aurora
    Having a strong immune system will help your body fight off infections more effectively. Getting enough sleep every night, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and minimizing stress are the best ways to keep your immune system running its best.

    Sleep is incredibly important, especially the night before a test. Forming a study schedule that allows you to keep up with your classes and get an adequate amount of sleep each night will serve much better than any cram session. Forming these good study habits early will set you up for success later, as well.
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    AHealthyWomen answered
    Practicing these good health habits will help keep your immune system strong throughout the year:
    • Prepare low-fat, balanced meals packed with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein like fish, soy and beans.
    • Choose natural, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
    • Don't smoke.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get active as a family and plan fun activities.
    • Manage stress.
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    AAlan Greene, MD, Pediatrics, answered
    Is my baby’s immune system less developed than an adult’s?
    New research shows that the immune system of an infant is actually as developed as an adult's - but there is an interesting twist to this discovery! Watch as pediatrician Alan Greene, MD, discusses this exciting development in children's health.
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    AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered

    There are many simple day to day things that can help keep your immune system strong. These include maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and minimizing the amount of stress your body experiences. In addition to these daily routines you can also take a natural immune support supplement such as larch arabinogalactan. 

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    The development of lymphedema can be detected using a testing method called bioimpedance spectroscopy, which measures extracellular fluid in the limbs by passing low-dose electric current through the limb, to detect the way the body responds to fluid changes. The test is painless, fast (five minutes), noninvasive and portable.
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    AUCLA Health answered

    Dendritic cells are found in the blood. They are essential for the start of any immune response, be it against a bacterial infection, a viral infection or tumor cells. Moreover, these dendritic cells are also responsible for telling the body what type of immune response to initiate, so that the invader can be attacked with the most effective tools.

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    APenn Medicine answered

    Anyone who has had an axillary lymph node dissection as part of breast cancer surgery is at increased risk for upper extremity lymphedema (swelling due to a blockage of the lymph passages). Sentinel node biopsies also carry a risk of lymphedema, but to a much lesser extent. Lymphedema can occur immediately postoperatively or within a few months, a couple of years, or as late as 20 years after treatment. With proper education and care, the incidence of lymphedema can be minimized or, if it develops, kept well under control.

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    ARealAge answered
    Your immune system is responsible for helping fight off everything from the common cold to cancer -- a tall order! Send in some reinforcements so it doesn't get battle fatigue. Here are four foods your immune system loves. Oranges, yogurt, tea and pumpkin seeds are the order of the day when it comes to giving your immune system a treat, according to Michael Roizen, MD, and Mehmet Oz, MD, authors of the best-selling (and now newly expanded and updated) YOU: The Owner's Manual. Here's how these four superfoods help:
    • Oranges are chock-full of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that helps your immune system fend off disease-causing invaders. Other good C options are bell peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe and broccoli. Or take 400 milligrams of vitamin C three times daily.
    • Yogurt (unpasteurized) contains Lactobacillus acidophilus -- a healthy bacterium that helps thwart fungus-related infections. Or take a 20-milligram acidophilus supplement twice daily.
    • Tea is full of flavonoids, powerful vitamin-like substances that reduce immune-system aging. You'll also find them in oats, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, apples and berries.
    • Pumpkin seeds are great year-round, not just at Halloween, because they contain zinc -- a nutrient that's been shown to help reduce the average length of the common cold. 
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