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The immune response

Following on from last week, let’s talk about the basics of what happens when your immune system comes across a pathogen.

The immune response can be broken down into 4 stages.

Stage 1: Innate immune response

This occurs in the first 4 hours after being exposed to a pathogen. The first response is not specific.

This stage involves a response by cells called phagocytes and natural killer cells to try and stop the pathogen by ingesting it, as well as a chemical response called the complement response which activates acute inflammation.

Stage 2: Inflammatory response

The inflammatory response begins with the complement response. It lasts for between 4 – 96 hours and is a way of trying to contain the pathogen while the body mounts a more specific response.

It is this response that leads to symptoms like fever, headaches, nausea, chills, muscle aches and fatigue.

Stage 3: Antigen response

The cells involved in stage 1 that ingested the pathogen, present the antigen (pathogen identifier) on their cell surface and travel to the lymph nodes. This presentation activates the cells involved in the last stage of the immune response.

Stage 4: Humoral and cell-mediated immunity

This response is known as the adaptive response and is more specific.

The humoral response is where antibodies are created by B cells and released to tackle the pathogen, and create memory cells for future infections.

The cell-mediated response is where cytotoxic T cells hunt and destroy certain cells with the pathogens antigen to fight the infection. They also create memory cells to help against future infections.

The more times your body responds to the same pathogen, the more memory cells are created and the better your immune response the next time.

As you can see, the body has a very intricate and processed way of fighting infections!

We can help to boost this response and we’ll discuss this in more detail next week!

If you would like to discuss your immune health with one of our practitioners, please contact us.

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