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Eosinophils are a specific type of white blood cell that protects your body against certain kinds of germs, mainly bacteria and parasites.

They’re also what causes you to have allergic reactions. Read about how eosinophils function in your body to try to protect you.

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Definition of Eosinophil

Your immune system has white blood cells that help detect and defend your body from germs and other foreign matter that can make you sick. One of these types of white blood cells is called an eosinophil.

Eosinophils help protect your body from harmful bacteria, as well as from parasites that can steal important nutrients from your body.Eosinophils are formed in the bone marrow, then released into the blood. They are also found in the tissues of the esophagus, intestines, stomach, heart, lungs, and skin. Being at these locations makes them closer to the sites where germs try to enter the body and thus better prepared to destroy them.

How Eosinophils Function

Eosinophils function in several ways. You can remember how eosinophils function if you remember that they use the ‘three Es’ to fight foreign invaders: engulf, excrete, and exhibit.

Engulf

Let’s start with ‘engulf.

‘ As soon as a parasite enters the body, a chemical signal is sent out that the eosinophils recognize and tells them exactly where the intruders are located. When arriving to the site, one task they can perform is to completely engulf parasites. This is like you swallowing a large amount of food without chewing! It’s definitely an effective way eosinophils can defeat these germs.

Excrete

There are some parasites too big for the eosinophils to engulf. In these cases, they have to use a different method of attack – this is where ‘excrete’ comes in. They first attach themselves directly to the parasites.

Then they excrete powerful enzymes that cause the invader to break down into smaller pieces making it easier to be engulfed. These enzymes can also disrupt how the invader functions, which eventually leads to its death.In some situations, eosinophils are highly sensitive to substances that do not directly harm the body.

These can include pollen, animal fur, dust, and mold. Sometimes they can be medicines or treatments that are meant to help certain health conditions. When eosinophils recognize these things as foreign invaders and excrete chemicals to stop them, this causes an allergic reaction.

This can cause some people to experience unpleasant side effects, such as a runny nose, sneezing, hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.

Exhibit

Sometimes eosinophils call for back up in the ‘exhibit’ technique. Eosinophils help other white blood cells defend and protect the body. When they see specific germs, they grab on to part of them and exhibit them like a flag on a stick that says, ‘Hey, look at me! These dangerous foreigners have entered the body!’ Other white blood cells see this and make weapons, called antibodies, that can kill the germs.

Lesson Summary

Your immune system has white blood cells that help defend your body from substances that can make you sick. Eosinophils are a specific type of white blood cell in your immune system that protects your body from bacteria and parasites. Eosinophils are sensitive to and try to fight substances that don’t necessarily harm your body, such as animal fur, pollen, and certain chemicals.

This can cause an allergic reaction. Eosinophils work using the ‘three E’s:’ engulf, excrete, and exhibit. Eosinophils are formed in the bone marrow. They live in the blood and also in the tissues of the esophagus, intestines, stomach, heart, lungs, and skin.

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