Immune System Disorders

No discussion of immune system disorders can begin without a basic understanding of what is the immune system. A body system is a certain set of cells and tissues which have evolved to play a particular role in the body. In the case of the human immune system, this system’s role is to defend the body against threats to the body. By defending the human body against threats, the human body is allowed to survive longer. In many ways, the human immune system is similar to a robust antivirus software program for a computer.

A robust antivirus software program, once installed in a computer, servers to protect the computer from all sorts of external attacks to the computer. These attacks may be in the form of computer viruses; ransomware demands; bad web sites; web cam protection; and keystroke duplication (to name just a few of the protections available). Many antivirus software programs update themselves so that they can identify the latest threats to computers and protect the computer appropriately.

In a general way, the human immune system works much the same way as a robust antivirus software. The human immune system has an ability to identify human viruses which pose a threat to the body and then to act against that threat by eliminating the threat. The human immune system also “updates” itself through vaccinations and to some extent by fighting small threats which makes the immune system ready to protect the body against similar but more powerful threats.

Returning for the moment to the antivirus software program. Imagine if the software program no longer was effective in protecting the computer against external threats. Or what if the powerful programs contained within the software program turned against the computer itself causing the computer to no longer function correctly?

The human immune system function in a way which is no longer helpful to the human body. In fact, the human immune system can actually injure the human body. Take for example if the immune system overreacts to otherwise harmless external stimuli (normally understood an allergic reaction). Such an event can cause a chain reaction resulting in the overproduction of chemicals to fight the stimuli. Once an overproduction occurs, the immune cells in turn produce chemicals into the body to fight against a threat which is now the chemicals which were overproduced. Many times, the body does not react well when this occurs.

Another example is when the immune system acts against health and harmless cells in the body believing those cells to be outsiders and therefore a threat (normally called an autoimmune disease). When the powerful human immune system attacks the body itself, the person can become very sick and, in some cases, become disabled and even die.

The Social Security disability system recognizes that immune system disorder is a medical determinable impairment. Social Security acknowledges that is some cases, an immune system disorder may result in disability or death and therefore is entitled to serve as a basis for an award of Social Security disability. Listing 14.00 of the Listings of Impairments sets out the requirements for meeting or equaling the Commissioner’s requirements for disability when there is a disorder of the immune system.

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