In the fight against invaders, the body performs day and night performances. Usually this works well. But sometimes viruses co-incite a way in the body and trigger infections there – cough, runny nose or worse.
If this happens more often, the immune system can be weakened. But what is behind the immune system? "This system is very complex," says Prof. Ulrich Fölsch, a specialist in internal medicine and gastroenterology. Because the immune system is everywhere in the body: it is an interaction of cells, tissues and messengers of all kinds.
Protection against germ attacks
Start with the skin. The shell of the body is a protective barrier and usually destroys germ attacks. "The skin has a slightly acidic pH, which prevents bacteria and Co. from entering the body," says Fölsch, who is also General Secretary of the German Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM). The mucous membranes, the hairs of the nose or the eyelashes on the bronchi usually also ensure that the germs have no chance from the outside.
If germs enter the body through food, it is the saliva that tries to kill them – and if it fails, the gastric acid takes over. C & # 39; s also natural defense. "These are cells of the body that simply eat everything that looks foreign to the body," explains Fölsch. These so-called phagocytes include macrophages or monocytes.
If this natural defense fails to disrupt pathogens, then the body activates the specific defense: these are the so-called B and lymphocytes T lymphocytes, belonging to the group of white blood cells. They develop antibodies that specifically target known pathogens. "This is because the immune system has some sort of memory and remembers having to deal with these germs first," says Fölsch.
Reasons for immunodeficiency
If the body is confronted with a new attack by the same pathogen, the specific immune system recognizes it and can quickly make the pathogen harmless. "Who once scarlet never again, "said Fölsch influence: Because pathogens constantly change their composition, people often have influence more than once in their lives.
Infections of any kind occur when the immune system is weakened. This can have several reasons: from lack of sleep, from hypothermia, from chronic stress to chronic diseases such as diabetes to an acquired immune deficiency – AIDS, for example.
Drugs can also weaken the immune system: "You should be careful especially when taking antibiotics and take them only after consulting your doctor", explains Fölsch. Because antibiotics destroy not only foreign invaders, but also useful bacteria, which particularly the intestine needs smooth digestion.
Strengthen the immune system
Those suffering from infections more often and in a short span of time should explore how the immune system can be strengthened. "Simple remedies often help," says Ursula Sellerberg of the Federal Chamber of Pharmacists in Berlin. This includes, for example, a healthy and balanced diet. "Food supplements are not necessary for immune defense if eaten correctly."
Also excellent for strengthening the immune system: sports or simply outdoor exercise. "It is also important to wash your hands several times a day to wash away the pathogens," says Sellerberg. For those suffering from stress it can also be useful to learn relaxation methods. "This is not only positive for the immune system but also for the nervous system," stresses Fölsch.
"The sleep factor should not be underestimated," says Naturopath René Graeber of Preetz in Schleswig-Holstein. After his observation, many people do not sleep enough. "Lack of sleep can certainly have a negative impact on the immune system". And another tip from the graves: walking barefoot. "This not only strengthens the natural immune defense, but is also beneficial for the musculoskeletal system."
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