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  5. How Active Immunity Can Help You Fight Infections Effectively

Are you looking for ways to boost your immunity, like everyone else? If yes, do you know the most common type of immunity your body develops in response to any infection? It's active immunity.

Yes, this means you need to know how active immunity works, why it is important, and what are its benefits. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Active Immunity?

Active immunity is developed by your body in response to stimulation by pathogens. [1] When your immune system is exposed to different disease-causing organisms, the B cells (type of white blood cell) in it [2] creates antibodies that either destroy or neutralize the effects of such germs.

Each of these antibodies are built based on a specific disease your body is going through. This means one antibody can only protect you from only one infection. For example, if your body had developed antibodies against normal influenza [3], it won’t give you protection against cold or any other type of fever.

Your body does not build active immunity immediately after getting exposed to any disease. It may take a few days or sometimes weeks after the first exposure. But once it's built, it can last for a lifetime.

When the B cells run into any pathogen, they generate memory cells [4] along with antibodies. These memory cells are similar to the B cells which are formed after your body has recovered from the primary infection.

Memory cells stay for a long time to fight against the same infectious agents, if it attacks you in future. In case your body is threatened by the same pathogen for the second time, your immune system works faster and more efficiently to resolve the health issue.

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Active Immunity Process

1. The white blood cells in your immune system come across the proteins from the viruses, bacteria and other foreign elements.

2. Your immune system learns about these proteins present in those bacteria and virus cells and creates a protein surface to surround the antigen.

3. If you consider the protein present in those bacteria as a key, then the protein created by your immune system is the lock.

4. Your immune system releases a lot of antibodies to identify foreign bodies and bacteria.

6. These antibodies travel through your blood to find harmful bacteria and viruses, target them and ultimately fight them to prevent you from falling sick.

Types of Active Immunity

Your body develops active immunity in two ways - naturally or after administration of vaccines.

1. Natural Immunity

Your body creates immunity naturally when exposed to any pathogen. For example, if you are infected with chickenpox, your immune system creates antibodies that can destroy the disease-causing agent, after the initial infection. The memory cells created alongside the antibodies make your body immune from any further attack by chickenpox pathogens.

2. Artificial Immunity

Artificial immunity can be developed through vaccine-induced immunization, a process where you get protection against a specific pathogen through vaccination. When you are injected with the antibodies against any particular disease, your body develops the artificial active immunity. If you have taken a vaccine for a particular disease, you have very less chances of being affected by it again.

A vaccine [5] is a weak version of a certain disease that prepares your immune system to protect against the pathogens. These vaccines typically come in the form of injections or nasal spray.

Similarly to the natural active immunity process, once you have taken vaccination for any particular disease your body produces new antibodies with memory cells specific for that pathogen. If you ever come across that particular infectious agent in the future, your body will be ready to protect you.

Take the current scenario, for example, the entire world is currently looking for a covid-19 vaccine to keep a large population from the dangerous coronavirus. If the vaccine is made and distributed among people, they would be immune to the disease.

Benefits Of Active Immunity

  • Active immunity offers long-lasting protection as it forms memory cells that protect you from the specific disease in future.
  • If your body is exposed to the same infectious agent again, the active immune system gets reactivated within no time and protects you with double power.
  • It does not cost you much if you are going for artificial active immunity.
  • Active Immunity VS Passive Immunity

Active Immunity

Passive Immunity

Active immunity is your natural immunity that your body produces by creating antibodies and lymphocytes to protect you from infectious agents.

Passive immunity is when you take antibodies or lymphocytes from another individual who has already developed immunity for a particular disease.

To develop active immunity, your body needs to have exposure to the specific pathogen.

Passive immunity does not require your body to get affected by an antigen or infectious disease.

Your immune system participates actively in this process of developing antibodies against a certain pathogen.

Your immune system is not directly involved in the passive immunity process, rather it has passive participation.

Active immune system starts working naturally whenever your body gets exposed to any dangerous pathogen.

The only natural way to get passive immunity is through your mother during breastfeeding or through mother’s placenta.

It is all about antibody production to cure or neutralize any effect of the disease.

Passive immunity does not involve any anybody production, it rather requires direct transfer from another person.

Active immunity doesn't only create antibodies but also produces memory cells which later on protects you against the same disease if needed.

Passive immunity system does not form anything like memory cells. It only offers transient protection.

Wrapping Up

Active immunity helps you build up a strong immune system. The stronger your immunity gets, the more you are safe from diseases. Your immune system can identify a pathogen and fight against it. Even if you get sick, your immune system bounces back with double power to fight off the germ when you are exposed to it in future. Getting necessary vaccinations in childhood and whenever the situation demands, can boost your immune system and protect your body from several harmful diseases.

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