22

/ April /

2019

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Do we need to raise immunity?

If with allergies, vitamin deficiency and other summer-spring health problems is more or less clear, then the notorious weakening of immunity is a lot of controversial.

For people without medical education, the concept of immunity and its weakening, as a rule, is rather vague. Basically, it is formed by advertising companies of drugs aimed at “strengthening” of the immunity that is deliberately reduced in all polls. But is it as scary as it is painted? And in general, what is immunity and how does it work? With this, perhaps, it is worth starting.

Guarding for order

The immunity system is necessary for human to resist pathogen invasions, both from the outside (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) and from the inside (malignant degeneration of their own cells). The same invasion for her is a transplanted organ, so after transplantation you have to constantly take drugs that suppress the immune defense.

In order to understand how immunity works, the easiest way is to draw a parallel with law enforcement organs.

When a foreign agent appears in the body, it is arrested (absorbed) by the “patrol service” in the form of macrophage cells. They "establish the identity" of the detainee, recognizing his antigens - molecules that are specific to a particular type of "enemy". They are, for example, proteins of microbial membranes.

The information received is sent to the "database", which stores a certain type of lymphocytes - T-helpers. They supply this information with other types of lymphocytes - T-killers, which find and destroy the "criminal", and B-lymphocytes, which produce antibodies - protein molecules that bind the "enemy" antigens.

Information about some antigens acquired and secured in the process of evolution and is inherent in all people from birth - this immunity is called specific. Acquired immunity is formed by contact with antigens during life.

Immunity failures also occur. Sometimes the “guards of order” are mistaken and attack “peaceful citizens” - the cells of their own organism. This leads to the occurrence of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes mellitus. And it happens that one of the "divisions" is not active enough - as a result, the corresponding type of immunity is violated. For example, a violation of antitumor immunity leads to the development of malignant tumors. The excessive zeal of the "internal troops" also does not lead to anything good - this is how allergic diseases arise.

Weak link

Usually, when they talk about a decrease in immunity, they imply a weakening of the general immune response (production of “informational” substances, cellular reactions, production of antibodies) to the invasion of pathogens (most often causative agents of colds), and not the breakdown of a specific link of immunity.

In this case, the criteria for such a reduction are more than vague, unless, of course, we are not talking about serious immunodeficiency states, such as, for example, AIDS. Protracted pustular skin diseases, such as streptoderma, furunculosis, impetigo, etc., indicate quite clearly the deterioration of immunity. Also, it can be suspected with frequent (5-6 or more times a year) sluggish colds. But this does not mean that with a runny nose that lasts for several weeks, it is worth sounding the alarm and eating immunostimulants in handfuls.

In addition, the stimulation of immunity in the current situation is a subject for serious discussion. In Western countries, the term “immunostimulation” is generally considered to be slightly incorrect, since therapeutic effects should be directed to any specific functions of the immune system, and not to the entire immune system as a whole. Most often, this term is used to describe the maintenance of immunity in a constant "state of high readiness" for the invasion of microbes, which is more correctly called immunomodulation. By the way, some hormones - female sex, somatotropin (growth hormone), prolactin, etc., have this effect, but it is impossible to use them for the purpose of immunostimulation.

Unfortunately, while there are practically no drugs that can "strengthen the immune system in general." It is possible to inoculate or strengthen immunity against specific infections — for this purpose, vaccinations exist. You can fight, again, with a specific infection by introducing into the body the ready-made antibodies. But the proposals of the drug to "improve the immune system" in most cases, alas, are just an advertising ploy.

The subject of immunity stimulation in the post-Soviet space is especially popular. Produced immunostimulants show an increase in immune reactions “in vitro” and at the biochemical level, but it is difficult to say what the real benefits of them are and what the remote consequences of their use will be. Not to mention the fact that information about many mechanisms of immunity has become known relatively recently, and scientists are constantly receiving all the new data on its functioning. And this does not add to the confidence in the correctness and safety of the general stimulation of an under-studied system.

So, nothing can be done? Not so bad. There are several recommendations that will help maintain immunity at a normal level.

  1. Do not neglect the vaccination schedule. This advice primarily applies to traveling to exotic countries and to parents who want to protect their children from many dangerous infections. Also, do not forget that adults need to undergo revaccination against diphtheria and tetanus every ten years.
  2. Make sure that the food is complete in quantity and composition of nutrients, vitamins and trace elements - the immune system is very sensitive to their lack or imbalance. During spring asthenia (fatigue), when the body is weakened after cold weather, a short day and a lack of vitamins in the diet, include multivitamin preparations with trace elements in the diet.
  3. Ensure a normal night's rest - even a single lack of sleep temporarily weakens immune responses.
  4. Learn to resist the psychological stress and stress, because they also lead to a decrease in body resistance. If necessary, for this you can master any relaxation technique (yoga, breathing exercises, etc.).
  5. Keep yourself in good physical shape, more in the fresh air.
  6. Timely and fully treated for any infectious diseases.
  7. From time to time, maintain the body with tonic preparations of plants - ginseng, lemongrass, Eleutherococcus. They are perhaps the only ones capable of stimulating nonspecific immunity without unpredictable consequences (their experience has been around for more than one hundred years).

Of course, the above tips look too general, from the category: "You, my friend, eat carrots and jog a run." But with regard to the reduction of immunity, it is they who come to the fore, since the immune system is extremely sensitive to things related to lifestyle.

Well, if there are suspicions of a serious violation of immunity, do not postpone the visit to the doctor - perhaps there was a breakdown of a specific link of immunity, and there is no way to do without specific treatment.

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