Immune in wooden blocks

How exactly do we develop immunity?

The immune system is a complex and integral part of the human body. But how exactly do we develop a strong immune system?

Everyone is born with an immune system

We are all born with an immune system but not every baby’s immune system is healthy and functions as it should. When someone is born with an unhealthy immune system, this is called congenital (or primary) immunodeficiency. Primary immunodeficiency disorder means that person will be more likely to catch viruses and bacterial infections throughout their life.

 How you develop immunity throughout life

Everyone’s immune system changes throughout their life. Your immune system will age as the rest of your body does, and it will respond to external sources which can strengthen or damage it.

Exposure to diseases

We develop immunity when we are exposed to diseases. The first time we get a certain infection, our body will produce the necessary antibody but it will do this a bit too slowly. This gives the virus a chance to multiply and spread, so we get ill. However our body’s cells remember the threat so if we ever get this kind of infection again, the reaction will be faster and stronger. This is one way our bodies develop immunity.

Vaccinations

We can also develop immunity without infection, by getting vaccinated. Vaccinations inject a weakened pathogen into our bloodstream. This stimulates the production of antibodies, and our body will recognise the full version of the virus if we ever get it in future.

Every time our bodies are faced with bacteria, viruses, or illness, our immune system is stimulated and strengthened. The exception to this is if your immune system is unhealthy or doesn’t work properly. This happens if you are born without a healthy immune system or if your system is damaged (known as acquired immunodeficiency disorder).

There’s plenty you can do to strengthen your immunity throughout your life, by allowing your body to respond naturally to small episodes of stimulation and then giving it the support it needs to recover.

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