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The Human Body's Non Specific Defence.

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The Human Body's Non Specific Defence The skin The skin, in terms of surface area covered, is the largest organ of the body. It is the organ we see first (and indeed one of the few organs we can actually see when looking at a naked human body) and is of great importance in the defence of the body and thus in the delivery of nursing care. Further, since it reflects physiological and pathological changes in other areas of the body, skin changes can be used to aid both nursing and medical diagnosis. Another name for the skin is the integument (Latin integrere to cover over, protect) -The Longman Dictionary of the English Language (1984) defines integument as 'skin, membrane or husk'. Another term sometimes used for the superficial skin is the cuticle; hence the use of the word cutaneous, meaning pertaining to the skin. Just as the husk on a fruit or berry protects it from drying up in drought or swelling up in rain, so does the skin covering protect the body from the undue entry or loss of water. The skin contains glands known as sebaceous glands. These are associated with the hair follicles and are most numerous on the scalp, the face, the middle of the back and around the genitalia. ...read more.


Saliva contains an enzyme called lysozyme, which is antibacterial and mucous which in turn contains the immunoglobulin IgA. Thus patients who have become dehydrated and hence have a reduced flow of saliva are at a higher risk of mouth infections. The resident bacteria of the mouth are generally harmless. Indeed some such as alpha haemolytic Streptococcus are of a positive benefit as they produce hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching agent) which helps to keep the mouth clean. Patients who are on a prolonged course of oral antibiotics run the risk of having their normal flora wiped out. This can result in the opportunistic infection of the mouth by other micro-organisms. A common organism that can become problematic is the unicellular fungus Candida albicans that causes thrush. The tonsils also assist in the protection of the buccal cavity. They are formed of lymphatic tissue and will be studied in further detail later in the course. The outer covering of the tonsils is extremely thin and is easily traumatised and as such the tonsils themselves become prone to infection especially during childhood. The stomach The hydrochloric acid present in the gastric juices produced by the stomach lining is of a sufficiently low pH value to kill most organisms entering the body with food, drink or by being swallowed with the sputum. ...read more.


The ear Ceruminous glands located in the outer ear canal are modified sweat glands that produce cerumen or ear wax. This provides a sticky barrier to foreign agents entering the ear canal. Inflammation This is seen as a local non-specific defensive response to tissue damage. Its function is to eliminate the cause of the damage, remove the consequent dead cells and restore the constancy of the internal environment and as such is closely associated with wound healing which again will be covered in further detail later in the course. Inflammation occurs immediately after a physical, chemical or microbiological injury. As such it may be due to a splinter, acid burn, heat burn or local bacterial infection of a hair follicle or pore of the skin. The last mentioned which results in a boil is often quoted as a classic example of inflammation exhibiting the five characteristics of the process namely: redness over the area swelling heat pain loss of function Blood clotting The blood clotting process begins immediately on damage to a blood vessel. If the damage is due to laceration of the skin an effective barrier against invasion of the wound known as a scab will occur within a relatively short period of time. ...read more.

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