About Immune System Health
The immune system has a critical task that affects the entire body. By its complex devices and processes, the immune system identifies what is natural to the body and what is foreign and, therefore, a potential threat to health. When foreign intruders are identified, a healthy immune system either neutralizes or destroys the invader. Cell-mediated immunity employs T cells (specialized white blood cells) to identify and destroy cancer cells, bacteria and viruses. T cells navigate the blood stream to search and destroy all that is foreign and threatening to the body (antigens). Humoral immunity produces antibodies, which are special proteins that can damage or notify white blood cells to attack specific antigens.
The immune system is a complex aggregation of organs and other systems that include white blood cells, bone marrow, the lymphatic vessels and organs, and serum factors. Unless born with innate immunodeficiency, the immune system functions from birth, developing into an eventual healthy system that can defend the body from infections and injuries. In maturity, the immune system has developed the adaptive ability to identify and remember antigens (alien invaders). The two forms of immunity are cell-mediated and humoral.
There are a number of immune system disorders that compromise the body's health and even threaten life. Primary and secondary immunodeficiency disorders are those that, in the former case, a person inherits or, in the latter case, are acquired. Innate immunodeficiency disorders include IgA deficiency, a condition in which one does not create enough IgA, an antibody found in body fluids, primarily in saliva. Thymic dysplasia is a birth defect in which the infant is born without a thymus gland, which produces T cells. Acquired disorders include HIV/Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is an infection that destroys the immune system by wrecking T-helper cells. This disables the immune system's ability to fight simple infections, let alone complex threats. these are not the extent of immunodeficiency diseases.
A physician can identify symptoms that point to a disordered immune system. While a tendency to catch colds is not symptomatic of immune problems, sore throats, colds and more severe respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, can indicate a compromised immune system. Followed by respiratory immune problems are bacterial infections and infections of the mouth, ears, throat and skin, along with persistent and recurring respiratory infections. Chronic fatigue and impaired liver function can signal immune disorders. Seek medical attention if troubled by any such complaints.
Some factors that affect the immune system include the fact that a healthy white blood cell count is key for a healthy immune system. A healthy range for white blood cells is approximately 4,000 to 12,000 cells per microliter (one-millionth liter) of blood. A factor not often discussed is that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, weakens the immune system. Additionally, since toxic metals compromise the immune system, mercury amalgam fillings in teeth may contribute to deteriorated immune functions. On the positive side, human growth hormone, HGH, promotes a strong immune system. Vitamins A, E and especially C are helpful to strengthen immune functions.