How ageing affects your immunity?
PNB MetLife 28-08-2019 12:48:02 PM
What is Immunity?
Immunity is the body's defense mechanism consisting of a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that protects against infectious bodies. The immune system keeps us healthy by warding off foreign bodies. But when the immune system cannot protect you, a health insurance policy can assuage the pain.
Here’s the thing with the immune system: it tends to get weaker as we grow older. With age, the body stops reacting to vaccines as efficiently as it used to. The immune function wanes in all adults as they enter their fifth decade and beyond, whether they are healthy or sick notwithstanding.
There is even a term for this: immunosenescence. It refers to the gradual deterioration of the immune system because of the natural ageing process. Studies have pointed at the inevitability of this phenomenon . Not only do we have fewer immune cells as we age, but the ones that we do have also don’t communicate with each other as well. That means they take longer to react to harmful germs.
That’s not the only impact of the body producing fewer immune cells, including white blood cells. The result is also that your recovery from injuries, infections, or illnesses slows down.
Collectively, ageing causes an increasingly pro-inflammatory state. This, in turn, implies reduced immunity to infections and reduced response to vaccines. This renders people more susceptible to diseases.
The liver is under attack when you are ageing
Because inflammation is the major pain point, our liver is gravely affected too. It loses its resilience and ageing leaves our livers more vulnerable to inflammation, scarring and cancer from the hepatitis B virus that hijacks liver cells to replicate. On World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organizations will disseminate information about it: hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. From that, it follows that with age the threat of hepatitis also increases. While efforts to eliminate hepatitis are gaining momentum, and access to hepatitis C curative therapy is increasing, you might be caught unawares.
A World Hepatitis Day graphic from WHO depicts that 95% of people with hepatitis don’t even know they are infected. Thus, there’s much to be done here.
Underneath all this medical jargon, the bottom line is this: with increasing age, our immune system is just not as robust as it used to be.
Can the ageing process be made healthy?
Prolonged life expectancy since the 20th century has been one of humankind’s greatest triumphs. But this also presents a novel concern: earlier we were concerned about dying too soon, now we are concerned about living too long in equal measure. Many people believe that through regular physical activity and a healthy diet, they can negate the impact of ageing, but this isn’t something within one’s immediate control. Infectious diseases will attack those with lowering immunity and prominently contribute to morbidity in the vulnerable elderly population.
It is a myth that you can control age-induced ailments through healthy ageing. Providing for unexpected health care expenses due to declining immunity is non-negotiable.
How can you, as an individual protect against the deleterious impact of ageing?
It becomes important to stay on top of your health and be prepared for any unexpected healthcare expense. The best way to provide a cushion for medical emergencies is through health insurance. While we may not be able to predict or prevent these diseases from occurring, but we can certainly protect against them financially by investing in a robust health insurance plan. Many life insurance plans will allow you to add a rider for health insurance: while a serious illness rider provides coverage for critical illnesses like cancer or heart-related diseases, a comprehensive health insurance policy can even cover the medical expenses thoroughly.
1 Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5731094/
2 Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/hepatitis-day/2016/infographic/en/
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