Publication year: 2020
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Many people have experienced the connection between stress and getting sick. Colds, influenza, herpes and allergies seem worse when we are severely stressed at work or in the home. Others are never sick until they go on vacation (that is, after the stress is over), and then they spend the whole time fighting the virus. Because of intrinsic connections like these, many researchers are today exploring whether (and how) stress and illness are actually linked. One specific focus of this research is to study the effects of stress on the immune systems; after all, if stress affects immunity, that would be one way in which stress could contribute to illness. The function of the immune system is to protect us from organisms that cause disease, and from other materials that would be harmful to the body. Cells of the immune system (i.e., white blood cells) circulate throughout the body in the blood and are also located in various organs, including the bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes and spleen. There are a number of different kinds of white blood cells, but the most important in this context are lymphocytes.