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Immunity as You Age


WebMD Magazine - Feature

Q: Do we get sick less often as we get older because we’ve been exposed to everything?

A: When it comes to infectious diseases, this is largely TRUE.

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Once we endure the sniffles, coughs, and flu bugs of childhood and adolescence, most of us can expect to be "under the weather" a lot less as adults.

"If you’re an adult, you’ve probably had most of the childhood diseases already and have an acquired immunity, so your resistance is a little higher," says Russell Robertson, MD, chair of family medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. "So if you’ve been properly immunized, and you take good care of yourself, you have every reason to expect that you will not get sick as often as you did when you were younger."

That doesn’t mean that once you hit 25 or 30, you’ll never get sick again. Dozens of different viruses can cause colds and flu, so you are likely to get a cold now and then. Watch out for the many other illnesses that aren’t related to infections, too.

"But if you’re eating right, exercising, and keeping an eye on family history and risk factors that might predispose you to illness, you should expect a very healthy middle age," says Robertson.

Reviewed on January 01, 2008

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