‘This might not need treatment”, a patient presents with this statement from her pediatrician. She seemed to be in a panic. She continues to narrate how Peter had a fever the previous night and she thought it would worsen as the night went on. But when they went to the pediatrician in the morning, he suggested that Peter’s condition did not require any treatment since it was viral. When we looked at the lab results, they closely rhymed with what the pediatrician had suggested and we indeed gave only a multivitamin syrup.

Some illnesses like flu, cough or a common cold commonly termed as self-limiting (can heal without treatment) usually are left untreated if not severe, to give a chance to the body to defend itself. This is one of the best strategies in medicine, as it gives the body chance to develop an immunity against the same pathogens, meaning no medical treatment will be required next time you suffer from them. This immunity is termed as adaptive immunity.

Adaptive immunity, also known as acquired immunity, is a type of immunity that uses specific antigens to strategically cause an immune response. The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells and proteins that defend the body against infections while protecting the body’s own cells.

Have you ever wondered how your recovery time for the common cold or flu seems to get shorter after you have been exposed and successfully recovered for the first time? This is the adaptive immunity at work. Adaptive immunity increases with time, for example, the more you suffer from a particular infection, the more you are likely not to suffer from the effects of the infection; the effects of the infection reduce with time. For example if the sneezing was severe in the first incidence of suffering from a common cold, the severity might reduce with time.

So the next you suffer from a flu or a cold, give chance to your body to defend you!

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