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x_BryGuy_x t1_issyr46 wrote

You are now only immune to the specific variant of whatever virus you just fought off and not all infections. The adaptive immune response is HIGHLY specific. In many cases, you will only maintain this new immunity for about a year or so (give or take).


ottpro t1_ist0kot wrote

So ppl that get colds more than once per winter (north east USA, Canada) are catching a second different variant?


Revolutionary-Copy71 t1_ist3cx6 wrote

Yep. There's a few hundred rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, enteroviruses, and adenoviruses that can cause what is commonly thought of as the "common cold". I used to work with toddlers, and despite our best efforts to mitigate spread of's toddlers, stuff is gonna spread. I'd get 6-8 colds per year. I seriously felt like I was always in some stage of sickness lol.


JetKeel t1_istkpg0 wrote

And correct me if I’m wrong, even if you catch the same virus after losing immunity, it is still possible to experience very different symptoms. This can be caused by how long the virus had a “foothold” before your immune system really ramped up against it, where the virus settled and multiplied, and also your own general health before your body started fighting it off.

So for example, if you caught a specific rhinovirus, your body caught it early, you might only experience a mild fever and a little tiredness. But if you caught that same virus later, you were already tired, it reproduced more in your lungs, you could develop more of a severe cough.


spaceman60 t1_istx78q wrote

Don't forget dose as well. Were you 5ft from someone that is sick and they sneezed, or were you licking the subway handles?


Chickentrap t1_isu8rol wrote

How do you get your daily salt intake without a little handle licking?


heiferly t1_isujwz5 wrote

I'm a behaviorist who happens to have OCD. I did exposure therapy and I believe in its effectiveness... But I saw a TV show where an OCD therapist wanted her patient to touch a port-a-potty seat and lick her hand after. I don't know if the patient did it, bc it went against the medical ethics courses I took and I didn't watch the rest of the show. I can't believe a provider would think that's acceptable.


Chickentrap t1_isuqlze wrote

I didn't realise exposure was effective in adults. I always assumed it to be mostly beneficial to children to develop a robust immune system.

And that's ridiculous, but was probably dramatised for tv purposes. I don't think any credible therapist would sanction that method.


murgatroid1 t1_isut2l6 wrote

Exposure Therapy is a psychological treatment for anxiety disorders and isn't the same as deliberate exposure to pathogens in order to trigger an immune response, like you're talking about with children. And *that* sort of exposure does work with adults to some extent (like in vaccines), but it happens more in childhood because that's when everything is new to the immunue system.


regular_modern_girl t1_isvq55f wrote

Yeah it seems that a number of people thought it would be a good idea to do that sort of “exposure therapy” with covid early in the pandemic, and it…generally didn’t work out so well for a lot of them.


heiferly t1_isuxlab wrote

What murgatroid said. It's a behavioral-based psychological treatment, related to cognitive behavioral therapy, applied behavior analysis, etc. It's used to treat OCD or specific phobias (which I think they changed in the latest DSM but I'm old and out of school and that's not my field of practice and I'm gross with covid fever so no googling, sorry).

Basically you get exposed to things that cause you mild anxiety and slowly increase until you acclimatize to your biggest anxieties; in recent years research has shown pairing this with beta blockers can be highly effective and faster.


SuurAlaOrolo t1_isvgiwv wrote

May I ask: I have a phobia of flying in an airplane that developed in my 20s. (Previously I flew dozens of times; now I haven’t flown since 2012.) I saw a psychologist who recommended exposure therapy, and I’ve heard about its effectiveness, but I simply can’t fathom how it works for flying. I tried it per my psychologist’s suggestion: looked at magazines with pictures of cabin seating, watched YouTube videos of turbulent flights, went to the airport and looked at flights taking off. It felt silly. I have no anxiety response to these things—they aren’t dangerous. Could you please explain how it is supposed to work?


heiferly t1_iswck9o wrote

Technically I can't give a professional opinion over the internet, but given a hypothetical situation presented as you've described above, my knee-jerk reaction would be that for whatever reason, the practitioner planned and executed the treatment incorrectly. The planning aspect in particular is closely tied to the same theories and techniques I learned in graduate applied behavior analysis courses; laypeople commonly hold misconceptions about the jargon of my field but a psychologist should definitely be familiar with the concepts and their application.

I'm sorry you had such a poor experience. I'm terminally ill, immunocompromised, and currently ill with my third acute bout of covid (plus long covid since the 2nd bout) so I intend to return and answer here more but for now rest.


slacker346 t1_isuz5tl wrote

I remember once sitting behind a mother and her toddler on the light rail train, and she was completely, blissfully unaware of that kid was doing. She thought he was looking out the window. Maybe he was, but he seemed most focused on licking every part of that window. Ewwwwww....


Revolvyerom t1_isukvi0 wrote

> licking the subway handles

Wait, we're not supposed to do that?


[deleted] OP t1_isuaevi wrote



ontopofyourmom t1_isune10 wrote

Yep. When I got Covid the active infection was noticeably spreading through my throat and sinuses rapidly (like over the course of half an hour). My immune system beat off the major infection before it got into my lungs and I just wound up with a month of "long" symptoms.


Emu1981 t1_isuv4u0 wrote

>When I got Covid the active infection was noticeably spreading through my throat and sinuses rapidly (like over the course of half an hour). My immune system beat off the major infection before it got into my lungs and I just wound up with a month of "long" symptoms.

It depends on the variant that you caught. Some target the lower respiratory tract more while others target the upper respiratory tract more. One of the reasons why the early Omicron variants were not as dangerous as the Delta variant was that they targeted the upper respiratory tract more which meant that you were far less likely to end up with viral pneumonia or other issues with your lungs.


VoilaVoilaWashington t1_isus8hm wrote

Basically, the common cold is any mild response to a respiratory infection. There isn't anything about those 4 families of viruses that unite them, unlike "the flu" which is always an influenza virus.

In that regard, SARS-CoV-2 ("covid") is basically just a "common cold" on steroids, which ended up being taken seriously and the variants are being tracked. Outside the effect it has on people, it's not all that unique.

Same as those super-flus. It's all just influenza, just some hit humans way harder than others.


regular_modern_girl t1_isuw941 wrote

This is why omicron was able to so easily end up with some genetics from a milder coronavirus that regularly circulates as the “common cold”, because they’re pretty much the same thing, SARS-CoV-19 is essentially just a novel cold virus that humans lacked pre-existing immunity to, and thus it was able to cause far more harm to the body than it normally would’ve. Eventually, the descendants of this wave of Covid will probably become perceived as little more than a somewhat-bad colds as we continue to adapt to its presence (and to some extent, as it continues to adapt to us, as in general it’s actually more advantageous for viruses to keep their hosts alive while still being as virulent as possible, rather than killing them. Viruses in general don’t actually benefit evolutionarily from killing their hosts).

iirc, there are H1N1 influenza strains directly descended from the 1918 pandemic virus that continue to crop up as seasonal flus, and only occasionally does another one pop up from that lineage that causes serious enough illness to be especially noteworthy (“swine flu” back in the early 2010s was actually an example of this if I recall).


TuckerMouse t1_ist0x5s wrote

Usually. Or a different thing entirely and think it is a cold because a cold shared symptoms with basically everything. Or they have a weakened immune system and catch the same thing again. But usually a different variant.


Live-Parsley-3574 t1_ist21d6 wrote

Yeah, the virus that makes u get a cold (usually) is called rhinovirus which has a high mutation rate (This makes It unrecognizable to the human organism despite of being infected by this virus before). So people can get infected from more than one variant at different times despite of having recovered from the first cold.

(Sorry if i didnt express myself well, english is not my first language)


Asterose t1_isvq23m wrote

One correction, there are hundreds of rhinoviruses, not just one! Some other virus families also cause the symptoms that we call "the common cold," but AFAIK rhinoviruses are the biggest group.


TexasTornadoTime t1_ist4hno wrote

Why did you specify those regions as getting it more than once? It’s not a regionally driven phenomenon


ottpro t1_ist50jd wrote

My familiarity with them, the ppl and their winter season. I don't actually know if... say Texans or Morrocans get colds or seasonally


thelonetiel t1_istm2uj wrote

Can confirm, other population centers also have a variety of viruses.

This feels like a continuation of the misconception that "being out in the cold makes you sick" - when in reality the source of a cold is just a virus.

There are some factors that drive up disease rates in winter or colder climates - more time indoors with less ventilation makes spreading airborne viruses easier, among others - but warm climates still have the flu and the common cold viruses floating around


Emu1981 t1_isuvmpt wrote

The ability for viral particles to survive in the air also is dependent on the temperature and humidity. Not to mention that being cold reduces the efficiency of your immune system - the reason why you get a fever when you have a infection is that your immune system works best at higher than average body temperatures and the higher temperatures tends to impair the ability of the infection to replicate and spread.


regular_modern_girl t1_isvpce5 wrote

yeah also summer colds are a thing. Also, even in many areas with hot climates, the winter tends to be cooler and rainy (unless you’re right in the middle of the tropics where seasons don’t really work the same way), which means that people still end up spending more time indoors (especially since even 15 °C can feel cold to someone from a warm climate). It’s really just people packing together in less ventilated spaces which allows viruses to spread more (although with influenza I have also heard that the virus can’t remain viable outside as long in hot weather, and iirc this is even somewhat true of covid, but most transmission happens at fairly close range, anyway).


the_ringmasta t1_isu7l6u wrote

Not necessarily.

I have a semi-uncommon immune disorder that prevents me from developing lasting immunities, so I can catch the same thing multiple times. Also, vaccines are a mixed bag for efficacy in my case.

Most people, though, work like you're describing.


National_Suit5438 t1_isuv41r wrote

Can I ask which autoimmune disorder that is? I feel like I must have it too. After having COVID twice in a row, and then such again a few weeks later, after a lifetime of being sick too often, I’m seeking answers.


NatAttack3000 t1_isv57mi wrote

There are many different immune disorders, it's very unlikely you have the same thing as this person


the_ringmasta t1_isv65l0 wrote

I have IgA deficiency, which is about 1:150 in the US, but only about half of people with the disorder have the vaccine failures.

It's usually mostly harmless as long as you don't get blood transfusions or live near ragweed.


AotearoaChur t1_isviwn4 wrote

Yes. But only in those places. Us people that have winter elsewhere are immune for life. And our boobs and testicles glow orange!


Kraz_I t1_istlu1j wrote

But since your innate immune system ramps up during a cold or flu, would that make it less likely to catch other respiratory pathogens during that time?


Polymerbiomaterials t1_isuq9eo wrote

Not an immunologist but I'd strongly suspect the answer is no - if you are exposed you are just as likely to fall ill. Unless you're body has seen that exact strain of virus before it will take time to develop a specified response capable of fighting infection off.

However the fact your immune system is already active might mean that the 'inflammation' would be different. It could mean the second infection could be a lot worse but over a shorter period of time...


NatAttack3000 t1_isv5hmn wrote

No they're right. The innate immune system plays an important role in the start of an infection. When it is busy trying to kill one thing you are at slightly higher risk of a different infection- this is largely why secondary infections are a thing.

What you are speaking about is the adaptive immune system which kicks in a bit later, and is certainly more powerful, but a functional innate immune system should prevent a lot of infections before the adaptive response has really had to worry about it.


godlords t1_istyubn wrote

This ignores the adaptability (gene response, physical increases in production) possible in the innate response, especially in the short term.


jpeck89 t1_isthjia wrote

Would they be more susceptible to disease in general? Since their body just dumped a bunch of resources into fighting off the infection instead of day to day maintenance?


BizzarreCoyote t1_istkfmr wrote

The immune system can be incredibly resource intensive, so possibly. I suppose it depends on how severe the previous infection was. A minor cold, probably no more susceptible than anyone else. Fighting off the flu, or Covid? Your body might be spent.


SlutForTurtles t1_istpr3f wrote

I am curious... if someone wanted to be sick for 3 months straight without doing too much damage to themselves, what would be the best set of viruses to utilize?


FizzixMan t1_istvb84 wrote

A bit like drugs, you would want to cycle viruses that damage or strain different parts of your body compared to each other, but also ensure the harm caused is not permanent.

Similar to how one could drink a bit, then take cocaine while they give their liver a break, pop some sleeping pills while their heart has a rest etc…

You could go for a cold, followed by a tummy bug, maybe get a mild ear infection, then go back to colds again! Hell you could even chuck chlamydia in there at some point too - but that is getting less treatable these days.


NatAttack3000 t1_isv5rju wrote

Tha adaptive immune system is highly specific, but the innate immune system plays an important role in the start of an infection. When it is busy trying to kill one thing you are at slightly higher risk of a different infection- this is largely why secondary infections are a thing.

The adaptive immune system kicks in a bit later, and is certainly more powerful, but a functional innate immune system should prevent a lot of pathogens from causing infections before the adaptive response has really had to worry about it, by phagocytosis etc. Especially if the exposure dose of virus/pathogen is fairly low.


Tropenpinguin t1_issvs1d wrote

You're more likely to catch another. You're immune system and overall body is stressed and needs time to recover. That's why it's important to rest and avoid strenuous activities like training. If you start to early to hard it can even lead to heart muscle inflammation.

You are more protected from the same strain of cold for some time.


CrateDane t1_isu6m6d wrote

That is generally not correct. The first infection will cause release of PAMP and DAMPs which trigger an induced innate immune response, which will tend to limit the second infection. For example, interleukin 12 will activate natural killer cells, to better kill virus-infected cells. The response also acts on fat and muscle to mobilize nutrients for use (eg. to sustain the required energy for a higher body temperature - which is incidentally another response that limits the growth of some pathogens).


NatAttack3000 t1_isv6o3h wrote

That inflammation doesn't make us super immune for a time, otherwise we would be inflamed all the time. Inflammation comes at a cost - causes cell death, uses up energy. When you have an acute infection, you can deplete things like DCs and other phagocytes briefly and become somewhat immunosuppressed until they recover - this explains the very real phenomenon of secondary infections (eg. Bacterial pneumonia at the tail and of a bad influence infection). So in real terms most people ARE at higher risk of infection following an initial infection, particularly if the infection was severe


CrateDane t1_iswoeir wrote

> When you have an acute infection, you can deplete things like DCs and other phagocytes briefly

That is not really true, GM-CSF for example actually causes proliferation so you have more phagocytic cells available.

It's true that it isn't super-immunity though, and secondary infections can happen in some cases. But generally, an acute infection that the immune system can handle is something that will briefly boost your resistance to other infections. Especially infections of the same type and even more so in the same area - see eg. viral interference.


NatAttack3000 t1_iswpok1 wrote

It does, but GM-CSF is released to create more phagocytic cells because they are being depleted by the infection - DCs definitely die off due to increased apoptosis in sepsis (this contributes to post sepsis immunosuppression) and in severe infections like severe influenza. I suppose this is far more relevant for something relatively severe, with heavy symptoms that you take days to fight. An acute infection with little symptoms is not likely to do this, but I'm still dubious about saying you have more effective innate immunity during an acute infection given how common confections are too... Active inflammation also inhibits other immune functions like for formation of germinal centres, some t cell functions etc, so having extra neutrophils might help with some aspects but not others.

An example is BCG vaccination (a live vaccine) induces emergency granulopoiesis which confers short term protection against bacterial sepsis, so an infectious 'nudge' like thia to the immune system can help it in the short term but you don't want to whack it with a baseball bat (eg. Severe influenza).


stu54 t1_istw8bx wrote

Also, your adaptive immune response has somewhat limited capacity for learned immunity. A new infection diverts antibody production away from older responses. You are less immune to everything except the most recent infection, assuming all other things are equal.


ottpro t1_istwzuy wrote

It's weird. I believe this to be true when talking toddlers, because they seem to get one sickness after another at school/daycare.. But then as we age, elementary and upto even adults, we all seem to go back to work/classes/social situations at the tail end of our colds and yet we usually don't immediately catch something else, even tho other variants must be going around the class/office as there are usually 1-2 ppl (out of like 30) missing every week.

So as an adult, I kinda feel like post-cold, I have generally stronger overall immunity.. At least to the parent strain type (say, rhinoviruses)


[deleted] OP t1_istzyvv wrote

part of that is you being a healthy adult. the very young and the very old are more vulnerable to illness because they have weaker immune systems. adulthood confers a degree of immunity because the immune system is the strongest during this period of life.


NatAttack3000 t1_isv65oc wrote

Kids also don't have the breadth of immune memory as adults do, so your child might get sick from every new virus they encounter (or most of them) while adults have immunity from having seen that virus 10 times already in their lifetime.


Kenevin t1_isuh5pn wrote

Kids absolutely suck at washing their hands. They'll wipe their nose and then stick their hands in each other's mouths.

It's really no wonder they get sick a lot, they're absolutely reckless, lol. Pack a dozen of them together all day and whatever one gets the other 11 are going to, too.


KelBowie t1_ist5pyi wrote

A cold is a virus, w/ variants, as many explained above you could get other viruses. Also! It would in no way protect you from a bacterial type infection, and it could make one more likely to take hold on your nasal passages (sinus infection) or brachial passages (bronchitis).

As a kid, I was the person who got a sinus infection after every cold. It’s much better nowadays and I also get far fewer colds because I am much better at germ avoidance than I was in school.


makiko4 t1_isu6uyx wrote

You’re more immune to whatever viral variant you got. However you’re immune system can be a bit weak after gifting something. I also believe measles can completely wipe out your immunity to things. So not always immune to something just because you had it, but much like the flu, colds have so many variants you can have colds multiple times in a year. If any of that makes sence.

Glad you’re feeling better


Salebsmind t1_isu84uc wrote

Both, you're now specifically immune towards the virus strain that caused your cold BUT due to fever/general stress reactions of the body towards illness your immune system and body is weakened and needs a couple days to be fit again.


medtech8693 t1_isujtck wrote

For vaccines there is a effect called non specific effects which describes the positive or negative protections against infections that was not the target of the vaccine.

This effect also appears for infections but the studies are more limited since you can’t really do a double blind.

Multiple studies have indicated that the common cold provided some protection against Covid.

A detrimental effect is also possible but I don’t have an example at the moment.


DifferentCard2752 t1_isui99t wrote

My FIL tested positive for covid, Influenza and strep all at the same time. He is fairly healthy and recovered fine, but felt crappy for a couple weeks. “Immunity” is an often misused, misunderstood word. Less susceptible, more resilient might be better terms than immune.

Your body has created a blueprint for the next infection so it knows what to do, but there’s no guarantee of immunity. And when your system is already stressed, you’re at a higher risk of another infection causing you symptoms than if you weren’t already fighting something. Think AIDS, it’s actually a common virus/bacteria that kills you, not the HIV/AIDS itself.


Ferociousfeind t1_isuohqw wrote

You'll be slightly less effective against different infections, because your immune system spent lots of resources fighting off that first one and will be less prepared against another different one.

Against the same disease, you'll be overprepared, it won't even be able to enter your bloodstream, the lingering antibodies will strangle it to death


bench11201 t1_isup34s wrote

From experience as an English teacher in several schools and Not even close.

You have some immunity to the specific cold you had. However, you're actually more at risk of other infections as your immune system is weaker takes a little time to recover.


TooManySorcerers t1_isuq98t wrote

You are not immune to "all infections" for any period of time. The only thing you have any sort of temporary immunity to is the specific strain of virus that you had. But there are countless other strains against which you do not have protection.


ShadowController t1_isusj4c wrote

While your immune system will be taxed and body weakened, I think it’s worth noting that the effects of a cold such as a runny nose may reduce your chances of infections from other common cold viruses. Research has shown people with allergies are less likely to catch Covid, so the mucous running down your throat and out your nose post-cold MAY offer similar protections.


ncc74656m t1_isv4uus wrote

No. Your immune system will be on higher alert for a short time, and similar viruses will see a very effective immune response, however the downside is also that your immune system is also under stress and needs time to recover, too. So even if you would see a better initial response, you may be seeing a lower one over the long term.


programmed__death t1_iswvqwz wrote

None of the top comments are answering the question! Clearly it is a balance, as the immune system was just trained on one pathogen, but it is in general weakened due to the illness. Given the prevalence of the cold with respect to other illnesses (in developed countries, as OP took off work) which is it? Are they more or less likely to come down with something?