A Chronic Respiratory Problem Could Be Caused By An Overactive Immune System.

A Chronic Respiratory Problem Could Be Caused By An Overactive Immune System.

Mild to severe symptoms may occur in the first few days after an infection with viruses that cause respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19. These symptoms typically resolve within a few days. Treatment may be required if the symptoms are severe. People may experience persistent symptoms that last for months or even years. It is not yet clear how or why respiratory conditions can develop into chronic conditions like long COVID-19.

I am currently a doctoral student and work at the University of Virginia’s Sun Lab. We study the immune system’s ability to sometimes malfunction after fighting viral infections. We devise strategies to increase the immune system’s resistance to future infections. Recent research has shown that this may not an infection cause by COVID-19 or other similar viruses, but an overactive immune system.

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In Health and In Disease, The Lungs

Your lungs must function optimally. You can do this by making sure your immune system is not activated if you don’t have an active infection.

Your environment is constantly in touch with your respiratory tract. It samples between 1.3 and 2 gallons of oxygen every minute. Your body evolved to protect your lungs against potential pathogens. Allergies and other conditions such as asthma can cause by an overactive immune response. This can make it harder to breathe and cause constrictions in your airways. Sometimes, it might be necessary to treat your immune system.

Researchers discovered that there are specialized types of stem cells in the lungs that can be used to repair damaged tissue. These stem cells can turn into almost any type of cell in the lung, depending on the signals they receive from their environment. Recent research has shown that the immune system plays a key role in lung recovery. These signals can have many effects. These signals can trigger stem cells, and cause lung damage. To avoid further damage, your body can control when, where and how strongly these signals are sent.

This not only damages your lungs but also slows down the ability of your lung cells to heal themselves. This can lead to chronic conditions such as COVID-19 or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, (MERS).

Chronic Disease Caused by The Immune System.

My colleagues and me discovered that chronic disease development following respiratory viral infections is influenced by many immune cells. This includes long COVID-19.

Scientists have identified killer cells as one type of immune cell that could contribute to chronic diseases. They are also known by the names CD8+ and cytotoxic T cell. They are specialized in killing infected cells either by interacting directly with them or by producing harmful molecules call Cytokines.

To stop active infections from spreading, the body requires killer T cells. 

Another type of immune cell is monocytes. They are responsible for fighting respiratory infections. They produce cytokines that can damage tissue and viruses. This could lead to more damage.

Understanding the immunological mechanisms behind long COVID-19 is crucial to address this rapidly growing public problem. Long COVID-19 can diagnose earlier if you are able to identify the subtle differences in immune cells. My team and I discovered that treatment that targets the immune system could be a good way to manage COVID-19 long-term symptoms. This strategy may prove to be beneficial not only for COVID-19 but also for chronic viral infections like respiratory viruses.