Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Immune System (Sicknesses)

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Broccoli

The power of broccoli! Eat it and you can cure any disease! (No, you can’t)

That’s right! I am going to be talking about the Immune System again! Some of you are probably thinking: What is he doing writing about this again? Is it a typing error? Is he getting lazy and redoing topics? Is pizza a vegetable?

Well, as the title suggests, I won’t be talking about how the immune system defends against viruses anymore, but I will be talking about the different diseases and sicknesses that the immune system can have. It is important to note that I will only be talking about stuff that makes the immune system not function properly. This is because almost every disease or illness out there is related to the immune system, since the immune system is the body’s main defense system.

Alright, so starting off, I will be talking about some minor malfunctions of the immune system. For one, there are allergies and asthma. You have probably heard of these from somewhere. Maybe one of your friends is allergic to salt. Or maybe you know someone who needs an inhaler for his/her asthma. These are caused because your immune system is a little bit TOO reactive.

TOO reactive? Is there such a thing? Well, yes there is. What is it all about? Well, let’s think of another example, for example, your toe swelling up. Your toe usually swells up because there is an infection. But why is there swelling? Normally, people would think that viruses from outside causes the swelling, but you are wrong. It is your CELLS. That’s right: VIRUSES DON’T CAUSE THE SWELLING, YOUR OWN BODY DOES. You have been betrayed by yourself. How can you trust anyone anymore? Now, before you start throwing yourself off buildings, let me explain that your body does that to help you.

(If you think about it, it dosen’t make much sense for a virus to make your toe swell up. After all, if your toe swells up, you will find out, and you will start bringing in medicine that will start killing them.)

So it isn’t the virus who does it. Instead, there are some cells in your skin called mast cells that cause the swelling. Mast cells are the misunderstood heroes of your immune system. They are always being blamed for causing pain to people but no one remembers the good work they do. So here I am, trying to clear their name. When they sense a infection, they will release inflammatory mediators. These mediators can cause cause redness, swelling and heat to the infection. That might not seem very nice, but it is good for your body.

Let’s go back to our example  Before that swelling was there, your white blood cells could not enter. However, now that it is, they can finally enter the infected place and fight off the viruses that want to enter. (That little bit of swelling may seem a bit small to you, but to your cells it is a lot) Another way to bring in white blood cells is by widening the blood vessels in a process called Vasodilation. (You don’t need to remember the name.) This process, unfortunately, causes the infection to be reddened and heated. (and itchy)

Alright, back to allergies. Remember how I said allergies were a result of your body being TOO reactive?  Allergies are caused when your body thinks that something harmless, like salt, is harmful to the body. Therefore, your mast cells will start sending out inflammatory mediators. In other words, it is being overactive.  This will cause rashes, swelling, and other unfabulous things to happen. And the thing is, nobody knows why the body thinks stuff like that is dangerous. There have been theories, of course, but nobody knows why for sure.

At this point, you should probably brace yourself. Because soon, another 2 pages of lame jokes are about to kick in. That’s right, it’s another comic. This time: We travel to a new body, of a woman who is allergic to milk…

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Yeah, so I am going to leave on allergies. If you’re wondering about asthma. It is also caused by the body releasing inflammatory mediators. The mediators cause the throat to swell up, therefore blocking air and making it hard for people to breathe. Asthma is caused by many different things, including allergies, stress, air pollution and genes

Wow. This post turned out to be much longer than expected. Alright, I’m going to stop now, because there is a whole lot more diseases that can affect the immune system. I have only covered the minor ones. Okay, next time, we will be exploring more on the diseases of the immune system, so I’ll see you guys next time.

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