Everyone knows that the human immune system helps to fight off illnesses. There are, however, a number of facts about this system that the average person may not know. Below are five interesting facts that might change the way you look at your immune system.

You Can Be Too Clean
According to the hygiene hypothesis, being too clean can result in getting sick more frequently. This theory states that a lack of early exposure to dirt and germs actually weakens the immune system overall, leading to more allergies and an overall weak response to illness.

There is even some consensus that using antibacterial soap is lessening the effectiveness of certain antibacterials across the board, which means that attempts to make the world a little cleaner may lead to a much sicker world in the long run.

Your Immune System Needs Rest
Your immune system works hard, and it relies as much on sleep as any other function in your body.

  • When you are hit with bouts of insomnia or you spend too many late nights out, you’re actually putting additional stress on your immune system.
  • This, in turn, means that those who don’t sleep quite enough are more likely to get sicker compared to people who get adequate sleep every day.

Your immune system needs for you to get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Don’t think of your next early night as a waste of an evening – think of it as a good way to keep yourself healthy.

Good Bacteria
When most people think of germs and bacteria, they think of illnesses. While there are certainly plenty of health problems that are related to bacterial infections, there are actually many ‘good’ bacteria that you encounter on a daily basis. In fact, some of these bacteria are so important that they’re necessary for you to go about your daily life.

Your gut, for example, is home to a virtually uncountable number of bacteria that are incredibly important to your health. Good bacteria work in concert with the human body to provide us with the tools we need to survive in the modern world.

Women Are at Greater Risk for Immune System Failure
Sometimes, the immune system just stops working correctly. This situation, which is referred to an autoimmune disease, is actually far more common among women than it is among men.

  • Women make up almost eighty percent of autoimmune disease patients, so it’s important that women be on the lookout for symptoms.
  • Immune system failure can lead to even minor illnesses becoming very severe, so a bit of prevention can literally save one’s life.
  • This is one fact about your immune system that you might not know, but that can have a huge impact on your future.

Symptoms are Good
When you’re sick, you probably wish you could avoid all the symptoms that come with your illness.

  • If you look carefully, though, you’ll realize that things like a cough, fever, or headache are actually signs that your body is working as intended.
  • When you experience the symptoms of an illness, it means your immune system has been alerted to the presence of the foreign agent in your bloodstream and it is attempting to fight back.

Even the sensation of feeling sick is a good thing – your body is warning you to conserve your energy so that it can focus on fighting off the intruder.

Stress is Bad
Everyone knows that stress is something to be avoided. Unfortunately, what you might not know is that stress can actually weaken your immune system.

  • When you are stressed, your body releases a number of chemicals in your body that are meant to help you survive.
  • When there are too many of these chemicals present, though, your immune system won’t work quite as well as usual.
  • If you’ve ever noticed that you tend to feel ill during the roughest times of your life, now you know why – your body just isn’t equipped to deal with fighting off illness and stress at the same time.

Your immune system is an incredibly interesting set of responses. It deals with the world around us in interesting ways and is influenced by factors you might never have expected. Learning more about this system doesn’t just give you some interesting trivia facts – it can also help you change your life in order to lead a healthier one.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Lia Crispell, CRNP

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