Drugs for immunity: benefit or harm — the opinion of an immunologist

The immune system protects a person from infections and foreign substances. Its main organs are the bone marrow and thymus gland. The first produces phagocytes and B-lymphocytes, the second produces T-lymphocytes. Phagocytes are designed to destroy harmful bacteria. B-lymphocytes (protective blood cells) are responsible for the production of antibodies — special immunoglobulin proteins that either kill «enemies» or neutralize them, or remove toxins (waste products of harmful microorganisms). T-lymphocytes «attack» foreign substances that have entered the body and control the production of antibodies.

The immune system can fail at any time. Not only stress or latent depression can lead to a weakening of the protective forces, but also a lack of vitamins and hypothermia. In winter and in the off-season, we become more vulnerable to infections, and during such periods, drugs for immunity can really serve us well.

Three sources
Depending on the origin of the raw materials, immunomodulators are divided into exogenous, endogenous and «artificial».

Exogenous ones are made, as a rule, from plants or waste products of bacteria and fungi. Their mission is to enhance the action of phagocytes, increase the number and activity of T cells, and accelerate the production of antibodies.

Endogenous ones are produced from biological material belonging to animals or humans. Most often, ready-made antibodies (immunoglobulins, interferon, etc.) are isolated from the raw materials. This group is designed to increase the number of T cells and stimulate the activity of lymphocytes.

«Artificial» immunomodulators are chemically pure and synthetic. The composition of the first includes substances that can only be obtained by laboratory method. These are the most expensive drugs, since their development and production require serious research and large monetary expenditures. Their advantage is that they immediately kill bacteria and viruses, simultaneously removing toxins from the body. Synthetic immunomodulators include artificial analogues of natural modulators.

It is important to remember that with prolonged or uncontrolled use of immunomodulators, their effectiveness decreases sharply, and the immune system, accustomed to external support, begins to be lazy.

Preventive course
Only a doctor should select immunomodulators, because these drugs not only have contraindications (allergies, pregnancy, etc.), but are also used in different ways. So, exogenous immunomodulators are more suitable for the prevention of acute respiratory viral infections. They are taken in short courses (for a maximum of a month) no more than 2 times a year − in late autumn and early spring. For emergency prevention, for example, when one of the family members is ill, and others need to withstand a viral attack, endogenous or synthetic immunomodulators are usually prescribed for a course of no longer than 10-14 days. The same drugs give a good result when the first symptoms of the disease appear at its early stage. Chemically pure immunomodulators are considered the most potent, so they are prescribed for the treatment of infection and only in special cases.

If colds occur 3-4 times a year and occur with complications (otitis media, sore throat, pneumonia), it is worth seeking advice from an immunologist who, among other things, will prescribe a course of suitable immunomodulators.

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