THE IMMUNE SYSTEM – MY PROTECTION FROM DISEASE
Your body is constantly under attack from pathogens. Pathogens are small living things such as viruses, parasites and bacteria. They make us ill and cause disease.
Pathogens enter our bodies all the time. We pick them up from food and water, from other people and from the environment. But we aren’t ill all the time. Our body protects us against most pathogens. It does this with our immune systems.
WHAT IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Your immune system is like an army in your body defending you against pathogens. This stops you getting diseases all the time. The army is made up of individual soldier cells. These soldier cells travel in your blood and if they contact a pathogen they surround it and kill it.
Sometimes the soldiers can’t kill the pathogens straight away. This is what happens when you are ill. There is a war going on inside you between your soldier cells and the pathogens. If the soldier cells win, you stop being ill. If the soldier cells lose, you get a disease.
WHAT DOES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM DO?
One way the immune system tries to win the war is by raising your temperature to kill bacteria. This is what happens when you get a fever.
If you have a cut that gets infected with pathogens, it will swell up. This is another way the immune system tries to win the war. It makes infected areas of your body swell. Liquid in your body goes to the infected area and causes redness and swelling. The liquid contains more soldier cells so they are close to where the pathogens are. This increases the chances that the soldier cells will win the war against the pathogens.
Your immune system protects you against a lot of diseases. It can’t protect you against everything though. It is important to protect yourself against disease in other ways. This includes being vaccinated against diseases to make your immune system stronger.
It also includes trying to stop pathogens entering your body. Some of the ways you can do this are by drinking clean water, washing your hands properly after going to the toilet and preventing your chances of being bitten by mosquitoes that spread pathogens.