When all our organs,systems,bones and muscles are working well, we enjoy good health. However, when any one of these has trouble, it affects other parts of the body as well and we suffer from discomfort or disease.
The human body is much like any other machine. It needs the right fuel at the right time. It also needs to be exercised regularly and looked after well. We can fall ill for many reasons. Bad eating habits, no exercise and lack of hygiene can cause several of the illnesses that we suffer from. An unbalanced or unhealthy diet slows down the working of our organs and results in diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Similarly, lack of exercise makes our bodies stiff and inflexible and more prone to diseases like osteoporosis and spondylitis.
Not all diseases are caused by carelessness alone. Sometimes diseases are caused by harmful viruses or bacteria entering our circulatory system. These may enter our bodies from others who are unwell from food that has not been cooked or stored properly or from our surroundings. Infectious diseases include the common cold, pneumonia and flu as well as more life threatening illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and aids.
Another cause of disease is body malfunction. Sometimes organs speed up their functions, slow down or stop working. This causes imbalances in the body because of too much or too little of certain chemicals, leading to depression and thyroidism. Cancer occurs when bad cells in a specific part of the body multiply swiftly and destroy the good cells.
When infections and disease attack the body, its first response is to fight back. In the process, the body raises its own temperature to kill the infectious bodies that have entered the bloodstream. The white blood cells immediately start attacking the alien bodies in an attempt to kill the infection. These cells even make special antibodies or proteins that can match the strength of the infections and fight against them. However, the immune system is not always able to fight the illness all by itself. Therefore, we have to help it by taking medicines. Medicines can be in the form of pills or syrup. They mostly contain chemicals that help to fight diseases. Some medicines can be bought from supermarkets, while the stronger ones can be bought only at a pharmacy and with a doctor's prescription.
Some illnesses can be avoided by taking medication beforehand. This can be in the form of a vaccination. Vaccinations are injections containing a strain of weak bacteria that causes a particular disease. The injected bacteria immunizes the body and prevents similar bacteria from attacking it. Diseases like measles, mumps, hepatitis and tetanus can be avoided by vaccination.
As the number of diseases keeps increasing, science finds more and more ways to understand and treat the human body. Early doctors treated patients after checking their pulse and the color of their eyes and tongue. Today, doctors diagnose diseases using complex and more precise equipment like ultrasonographs, CT scanners and endoscopes. The endoscope, a slim instrument with a camera is inserted into the body so that doctors can have a close look at the organs inside.
Some key facts.
● In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English doctor, invented the vaccine to fight smallpox. He noticed that people who had cowpox, a mild disease, did not get smallpox. So he inoculated a small boy with the cowpox virus and after a few days, he inoculated him with smallpox only to prove his theory correct. Vaccines have put an end to smallpox, one of the most infectious diseases known to man. They have also reduced the occurrence of polio, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.
● When we suffer from pain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands of the endocrine system produce chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers that act on the nervous system and lessen pain.
● Doctors sometimes give tablets called placebos to treat illnesses. Placebos do not contain any medication. They are just used to reassure the patient and make them believe that they will recover.
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