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Immunology: What Does It Stand For?

Immunology is the science dedicated to studying the immunity of living organisms: their biological mechanisms of self-defense of the body against any foreign agents in particular. The science deals with the structure and patterns of functioning of the immune system, its diseases, methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention.



Immunity, one of the basic concepts in medicine, to put it simply, is the body's ability to resist infections and resistance to harmful substances. For this purpose in the body, special cells exist: B lymphocytes (B-cells which recognize ‘foreign’ T-lymphocytes that detect own ‘altered structure’, natural killer cells), phagocytic antigen-presenting cells (monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, eosinophils , basophils, mast cells, platelets) and stromal cells. These cells develop into specialized organs. The main source of cells of the immune system is the bone marrow. In the thymus, T cells develop. From other agencies the lymph nodes, spleen, lymph follicles group are formed.

Immune system diseases under the microscope

As mentioned, one of the areas of immunology is the study of diseases of the immune system. Immune system diseases are subdivided into several types. The first type is an immunological failure due to defects in development or action of damaging factors (immunodeficiency). They are also called congenital and represent serious illness, in most cases resulting in death (often joined by infection) within up to 20 years, and in severe combined immunodeficiency - within the first year of life.

Another group of immunodeficiencies constitute secondary or acquired immune deficiency caused by disease or physical agents. In fact, secondary immunodeficiencies lack independence, as it is known to the state of concomitant disease or the action of damaging factors. Exceptions is the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Secondary immunodeficiencies are common, as a greater or lesser degree of deviation of the immune system diseases are accompanied by all involved in the response of most external factors, inherent stress accompany aging.

The second type of immune system diseases include hypersensitivity, or perverted reactivity, which is the main form of allergy. Distinguished are 4 types of hypersensitivity: the first type (anaphylactic: anaphylactic shock, asthma), the second type (cytotoxic haemolytic anemia, myasthenia gravis), the third type (immunocomplex: glomerulonephritis, systemic lupus erythematosus), a fourth type (contact dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis).

A third type of pathology of the immune system relatesto immunopathology due to self-destructive behaviour (autoimmune disease), the basis of which the mechanism is self-supporting the development of the immune response of the organism to self antigens, resulting in damage to cells containing this antigen. The damaged organs are paralyzed thyroid (Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myxedema, thyrotoxicosis), insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.

Finally, the fourth group of immune system diseases includes tumors of the immune system and especially lymphoproliferative processes. There are malignant tumors derived from cells of the immune system, and include lymphoma (follicular, Burkitt, diffuse, multiple, Sezary syndrome, mushroom leukemia, Hodgkin's disease), and leukemia (acute lymphoblastic, volosovidnokletochny, acute and chronic T-cell and others).

A specialist who deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the immune system called the doctor-immunologist. Also part of these diseases can engage doctors allergists, internists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, hematologists, rheumatologists and a number of other specialists.

The symptoms

The immunodeficiencies main criterion is the presence of chronic repetitive infectious diseases, as well as recurrent acute respiratory diseases - six or more times in children, and three - four times in adults; the presence of diseases is caused by conditionally pathogenic microflora, cerebral toxoplasmosis, pneumocystis pneumonia, diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium, a fungal infection, cytomegalovirus infection, and others.

Allergies are respectively manifesting with allergic reactions: redness and blisters on the skin, swelling of the face and neck, itching, bronchospasm, redness of the mucous membranes, increased mucus production, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and others, but they are all associated with the presence of an allergen. Autoimmune disease manifestations will depend on the affected organ: an impact on heart will lead heart complaints (pain, outages, shortness of breath, etc.), in case of joints - the joint pain, stiffness and others, kidneys - pain, disorders in urinary tract and so on.

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