Immune System

Immune System

Immune System
Immune and lymphatic system health is necessary for protecting your body from germs and diseases. Known as the body's 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), Huntingdon's disease and lupus. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakes harmless substances for threats and attacks these harmless substances.

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    The lymphatic system is a major part of your immune system comprising organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts and lymph vessels. The lymphatic system transports large molecules of cellular debris in the form of lymph fluid from veins and capillaries to the lymph nodes. Lymph fluid is a clear or white concoction of proteins, fats and white blood cells, including lymphocytes, which attack bacteria in the blood.

    Once lymph fluid is transported to the nodes it is filtered; damaged cells, cancer cells, infectious organisms and foreign particles are attacked and destroyed. Lymph nodes are located in strategic areas throughout the body including the neck, armpit, groin, and inside the chest and stomach. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign that your body is fighting an infection, because your lymph nodes will make more infection-fighting lymphocytes which can increase the fluid in the nodes.

    Lymphatic tissue is also found in the tonsils, adenoids, spleen, thymus, intestinal wall and bone marrow.
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    Serum sickness is a side effect that can occur after you take medication for an immune system condition, or after you've been given an antiserum (a treatment that protects against certain germs or poisons, such as snake venom or rabies). Your immune system can sometimes attack a protein in the medication, causing an immune reaction. Symptoms include not feeling well, fever, rash, swollen glands, itching and joint pain, and they usually show up about one to two weeks after you've taken the drug or antiserum. Symptoms usually go away a few days after getting treatment. 
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    An impaired immune system is one that is not working optimally. Our immunity keeps us from getting infections and protects us from cancer. The range can be from slight impairment to major impairment. For example, when we get tired and stressed, our immunity may be down and we are more prone to getting a cold. There are some conditions where the impairment is great. Patients who are on chemotherapy, have HIV/AIDS, or have autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, have serious impairment. They are more prone to infections of all kinds than those with a healthy immune system.
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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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    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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    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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    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 I discuss this exciting development in children's health.
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    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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    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.