HomeHealthArchivesMay 2004

 

Your Body's Guard

As you read this, you're being protected from an invading enemy by an army of millions-not the U.S. Army, but your body's immune system. The immune system is miraculous when functioning properly, and fully deserves your efforts to keep it that way.

According to Bottom Line Personal, the immune system consists of white blood cells that destroy bacteria and viruses that enter your body, whether airborne, foodborne, or through a break in your skin.

It's extremely rare that the immune system breaks down altogether, rendering trivial infections deadly. At times, though, it can be weakened, leaving you vulnerable.

The most common cause of a malfunctioning immune system is stress, along with other extreme conditions like grief and depression. These cause chemical changes in the body that hinder the work of the immune system. For that reason, stress management is important to your physical and your psychological well-being.

Some people help out nature by using vitamin A supplements to fight infection. Be careful about dosages, though, the newsletter warns. Too much vitamin A can actually harm your immune system.

When an infection overwhelms your immune system, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Help bring back your system to full strength by taking the medicine until it's finished-not just until symptoms disappear.