MicroorganismsA Small Formidable Opponent

There are millions of microorganisms around us—and in our body. Some are harmless. Others, called flora, help us with digestion. And then there are the harmful ones called pathogens. A pathogen is a microorganism that causes an infection.

Pathogens enter our body in a variety of ways such as a cut or in food that we ingest. Once inside, a race begins between the invading organism and the body's defenses. Our body reacts with an inflammatory response that dilates blood vessels so they become permeable. This allows fluid containing white blood cells to infiltrate the infected area. Nerve endings are stimulated and send a message to your brain that there is something wrong.

You know when this happens because the infected area turns red, swollen, and it hurts. The infection might be a patch of tissue referred to as a local infection. Other infections affect an organ or entire system of your body, which is referred to as a systemic infection or septecemia. An infection can also affect multiple organs and systems. This is called sepsis.

You can learn more about microbials by reading Microbiology Demystified.

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