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As we begin to reopen parts of the country and rejoin society, we have to be mindful of how fragile our immune systems might be after spending the past few months in a sort of sanitized isolation.
Understanding how the immune system works and how to properly care for it will help make sure you stay as healthy as possible when rejoining society.
The immune system is made up of two parts, the non-specific, innate immune system and the specific, acquired immune system. Both systems function together to help protect the body from disease causing pathogens.
The innate immune system is what we are born with which constantly scours the body looking for invaders (pathogens) and springs into action when one is discovered, surrounding the unwanted pathogens and killing it.
The acquired immune system is a bit more complicated. Unlike the innate immune system, the acquired immune system develops and changes throughout a person’s life. It also needs a little help from the innate immune system as well as the outside world to help produce antibodies used to protect the body from specific pathogens. To build up an immunity to certain illnesses and diseases, the body must be introduced to the microbes (or germs) which cause those illnesses and diseases.
This exposure typically comes from coming down with an illness and recovering from it (whether we realize this is going on or not) and/or receiving a vaccination for a specific disease or illness.
When it comes to germs, we really want the best of both worlds, don’t we? We want our bodies to have all the good germs needed to help us fight off the bad ones but at the same time, we also want to live in environments where there aren’t a lot of harmful germs to fight off.
To try and accomplish this we do things like take antibiotics when we’re sick and we use products like sanitizers and anti-microbial cleaners to clean our homes and bodies. When used in moderation, each of these things work very well. However, we sometimes go a little overboard and overuse these things and by doing so, we can sometimes upset the delicate balance we’re trying to preserve.
For the past several months we’ve been told to wash our hands much more frequently than we’re accustomed to and to use liberal amounts of hand sanitizer and other cleaners designed to kill germs within our homes. We’ve also been instructed to stay home for the purpose of limiting our exposure to COVID-19—all of which has been beneficial for reducing the number of people infected but it begs the question about whether all of this has made our immune systems a bit lazy.
So, how do we keep our immune systems strong and healthy so that when it’s time to rejoin society we don’t find ourselves overly susceptible to illnesses brought about by germs our bodies would normally easily fight off?
Here’s a list of several things that medical experts say you can do to help keep your immune system as healthy as possible.
Now, what most medical experts won’t tell you is that sometimes what you really need is a hot bath, a piece of cake, a good laugh (or a good cry!) and to remember to just give yourself a break!
Make sure to check out our blog for more resources on the evolving pandemic situation, like this post on workplace safety legislation offering new coronavirus protections.
Katy Lyden is a EHS Domain Analyst and Subject Matter Expert for StarTex Software, the company behind EHS Insight. Prior to her current role, Katy spent 17 years successfully leading EHS programs for several large companies within the manufacturing industry. Katy is a Navy veteran, Licensed Emergency Medical...
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