MUCUS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

. Posted in HEALTHY BODY

When an infectous agent enters our breathing system, the body automatically raises its temperature, and the consistency of the mucus changes: The pH changes, becoming more acidic, and the viscosity or thickness increases. This affects many bodily functions, possibly including a woman’s menstrual cycle and her ability to conceive.

Mucus contains immunoglobulins, which are proteins that act as antibodies to defend against bacteria, viruses, and molds. It is secreted along with other infection-fighting substances that make up our immune system. The main goal of the immune system is to identify harmful, foreign substances that enter the body. These can be microorganisms that cause infections (bacteria, fungi, or viruses), antigens (particles that create an allergic response), or particles that can cause inflammation (e. g., pollution). When the body comes into contact with any of these foreign substances, it will elicit a reaction to rid the body of it.

The immune system is a made up of many intricate and multifunctioning systems that work together to fight infection throughout the body, including in your sinuses and nasal cavities. It can be broken down into four basic components:

■ Humoral immunity, which produces antibodies from white blood cells (B cells in particular) that fight against bacteria and the antigens that play a role in allergic reactions

■ Cell-mediated immunity, which uses white blood cells (T cells) that protect us against viruses and fungi as well as assisting the humoral arm to fight bacteria

■ Phagocytic immunity, which causes a cascade of reactions that help the body fight bacteria

■ The complement arm, which is made up of bacteria-killing proteins

The humoral arm of the immune system creates antibodies, which bind to antigens and lead to the eventual removal of the offending toxin, bacteria, parasite, or other foreign substance. These antibodies are divided into five main classes of immunoglobulins: immunoglobulin G (IgG), immunoglobulin M (IgM), immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin E (IgE), and immunoglobulin D (IgD). Our body fights off infection by producing these immunoglobulins in the right quantity and at the right time to help us survive the constant exposure to environmental antigens. A deficiency in the production of immunoglobulins can lead to serious infections.

IgG is by far the most abundant and plays an important role in preventing allergens from initiating an allergic reaction. IgM is involved in the initial response to an infection as well as with some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. IgM also helps the complement arm of the immune system fight infection. IgA is found in tears, saliva, and nasal secretions. This immunoglobulin exhibits a potent antiviral activity that prevents viruses from binding to our respiratory pathway. IgE is present in small quantities but plays a large role in allergic responses. Although all of us produce IgE, those who have allergies seem to overproduce this agent.

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