A day does not pass so that the mass media do not scare us with new information about the dangers of our health everywhere. And the ways of infection with various viruses and microbes give us the impression that this enemy is an external one, that the disease comes to us from the outside, from someone else. However, all attempts to avoid an attack in a crowded metropolis lose their meaning. What’s left? Get rid of biases and arm yourself with valuable information to strengthen the body’s defences.
How the immune system works
“The microbe is nothing; immunity is everything,” said French microbiologist Louis Pasteur. In other words, if the body has a stable immunity, then microbes and viruses will not be able, first, to enter the body, and secondly, it will spread. The organs and cells of the immune system are scattered throughout the body and connected by blood and lymph vessels. In the bone marrow, the central figures in immunological supervision are formed and undergo the first stages of macrophages and lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are divided into two large groups. B-lymphocytes from bone marrow are sent to all lymphoid organs, including the spleen, the lining of the respiratory tract and intestines, and lymph nodes. Their function is the production of antibodies, protein molecules that belong to immunoglobulins. By joining alien cells, antibodies weaken them and allow macrophages and other protector cells to do their good deed. Somewhat simplistic, we can say that B-lymphocytes are responsible for protecting the body from bacteria and protozoa and their toxins.
T lymphocytes are turned on when we are at risk of a viral attack; they also destroy aggressive tumour cells or donor transplants. In the thymus or thymus, there is a complex biochemical process resulting from which T-lymphocytes are divided into T-helpers, which enhance B-lymphocytes’ work T-killers. In contact with the affected cells, the latter destroys the virus (and antibodies in the meantime neutralize the particles of viruses that got into the blood).
A detailed understanding of how the immune system works has allowed scientists to create various tools to maintain or stimulate our immune system. “The first drugs in medical practice were drugs derived from the thymus gland of cattle, such as T-activin,” says Alla Simonova, M.D., a researcher at the Institute of Immunology. “They had virtually no side effects.” Then came medicines from bone marrow – heavy artillery, which goes into use for cancer, hepatitis and HIV.
Modern drugs allow to increase the number of substances usually present in our body, but they may not be enough to fight infection. These are immunoglobulins, i.e. ready-made antibodies and interferon and its synthetic analogues, which help fight the flu and other viral infections of the respiratory system, viral hepatitis. Synthetic immunomodulators (or immunobusters) stimulate the formation of antibodies. They make life easier for cold sore virus carriers, are used to treat and prevent influenza. These tools seem to be a real salvation during virus epidemics. Advertising assures of their harmlessness; they can be bought without a prescription and used for preventive purposes. However, doctors treat immunomodulators with caution. “The area of their application is clinical immunology,” says Alla Simonova. “Decades of my experience show that they can give paradoxical reactions, from the exacerbation of the hidden infectious process to an asthma attack.” According to her, there are two areas where immunomodulators’ use is always justified: in combination with antibiotics in the treatment of inflammatory processes and between courses of chemotherapy of cancer. In addition, she admits, immunologists have not decided definitively whether long-term use of immunomodulators leads to the depletion of the body’s immune resources. Mikhail Nelyubov, M.D., agrees: “The state of our immune system cannot be considered separately from the cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine systems,” he notes. “I would not recommend using immunomodulators preventively to strengthen the immune system, especially on your own. This can NEW lead to a chain reaction of exacerbations of chronic diseases.”
Bacteria or virus?
Bacteria is a living microorganism that lives both outsides and within us in all organs and systems (except for blood and cerebrospinal fluid). There are billions of bacteria in our body, and without them, we just wouldn’t have survived. When some of their species dramatically increase their population, we get, for example, bronchitis, pneumonia. Particular types of bacteria cause typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis; thanks to other microorganisms, we get beneficial yoghurt, delicate cheese, fine wine. Antibiotics either kill bacteria (both harmful and healthy) or stop their reproduction.
The virus reproduces only once in the cells of our body. Antibiotics in the case of viral diseases (flu, runny nose…) are ineffective. They are treated with antiviral drugs based on a completely different principle (e.g., drugs containing DNA fragments embedded in the DNA of the virus and prevent its reproduction).
How to help the immune system
First of all, it is worth realizing that efforts to avoid contact with microbes, viruses, fungi are entirely in vain and not practical. If you endlessly disinfect everything and everything, there is a risk of destroying and “good” bacteria and thus harming health … Bacterial flora – intestinal, skin – we are vitally needed. There is also a unique, friendly microflora of our home. If we blindly destroy all these “little lives,” as bacteria used to call it, our immune system will lose its job. And then all its unclaimed power can fall on the host’s body – so there are a variety of allergies and other autoimmune diseases. We should learn to coexist intelligently with bacteria. Respecting the single space of the living world, avoiding the unreasonable invasion of disinfectant and antibiotics means reducing the risk of disease invading in your life.
Fatigue, constant stress, not too healthy lifestyle, errors or excess nutrition, insufficient sleep – it is also a violation of the contract’s main points “want to be healthy” which we conclude with our body. For an adult, you need to sleep at least six hours a day – this allows hormones that restore the body’s strength to complete their work. It is worth avoiding overexertion; make sure that rest is a mandatory item of your work schedule, especially during the period of viral epidemics. Positive thinking also strengthens the immune system. “Listen to your body, eat it properly, recognize the first signs of fatigue – the best way to prevent disease. After all, despite the densely populated microcosm of our body, the only man is the sole actual owner of his bodily shell.