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Young adults face higher risk of severe disease from infections than school-age children

New research suggests children aged 5-14 years are most resilient to infectious diseases, and immune aging may start in young adults, with implications for drug and vaccine design.



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The first systematic review of how the severity of infectious diseases changes with age suggests that the human immune system might start to lose the ability to protect against infections earlier than previously thought, according to new research published in Scientific Data.

Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the study analysed data of 32 different infectious diseases, 19 viral and 13 bacterial, looking for patterns in severity at different ages using case fatality and hospitalisation rates.

The severity of most infectious diseases was found to be at its lowest in school-age children (5-14 years old). Strikingly, the severity was higher among young adults in their 20s than among school-age children for many diseases, including polio, measles, HIV, tuberculosis, typhoid and meningococcal meningitis.

Some infections show a slower rise of severity with age after childhood – including COVID-19, SARS, plague and hepatitis A and B – but for most infections this rise begins well before old age. Dengue was the only infection that was most severe in school-age children.

These findings suggest that ‘immune aging’ may start much earlier than previously thought, with the rise in severity of many infectious diseases after childhood apparent by the age of 20 years. The researchers say these results could have major implications for understanding of resilience to infection, optimal vaccine scheduling, drug design and health protection policies over the life course.

Professor Judith Glynn, lead author from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “We know infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases due to their immature immune system, and the elderly are vulnerable due to immune deterioration. Surprisingly little is known about how the response to infection changes between these age extremes. The finding that ‘immune aging’ could begin as early as young adults could be a catalyst for much needed new approaches to how drugs and vaccines are designed and scheduled, although this resilience to infection could be attributable to other aspects outside of immune function.”

To reveal these patterns of disease severity in different age groups, the researchers collated more than 140 datasets with information on disease severity for over 30 different bacterial and viral infections. These included studies from the pre-antibiotic and pre-vaccine era, to understand natural responses to infection.

They found that, while most diseases have the lowest severity in school-age children, for many the severity increased in young adults. Severity was higher by the age of 20 years for polio, typhoid, tuberculosis, measles, smallpox, chickenpox, HIV, infectious mononucleosis and yellow fever.

Infectious diseases that showed increased severity from age 20 years onwards included Ebola, meningococcal meningitis, cholera, scarlet fever and Lassa fever. Some had a slower rise in severity after childhood, including seasonal flu, brucellosis and hepatitis B acute infection where severe disease was more common from 30 years old.

For SARS, COVID-19, MERS-CoV and hepatitis A disease severity increased from age 40 years. COVID-19 and SARS appear to have more extreme variation in severity by age than other infections, with predominantly very mild disease in children, and high case fatality rates in the elderly.

Professor Glynn added: “Extraordinarily, information on responses to infections by age has never previously been brought together for a wide range of infections, and the reasons for variation in severity outside the extremes of age have hardly been explored. Our results suggest peak immune response is reached during school-age, and then starts to drop off much earlier than currently thought, from as early as 15 years old in some cases. We also see age patterns in the immune responses to some vaccines, in how the body handles some persistent viral infections, and in immune markers, that together support our interpretation.”

While adolescents and adults may be exposed to higher doses of the infectious agent, which increases the risk of infection, the relationship with disease severity is less consistent, and infectious dose cannot explain the continued rise in severity throughout adulthood.

Co-morbidities also tend to increase with age, but are generally low in young adults, so are unlikely to explain the increase in severity.

Further research is required into the mechanisms of immune aging, and how school-age children are better able to resist infections, in order to inform new approaches to drug or vaccine design. Understanding the different resilience of children and adults to infections should guide policies, including vaccine schedules and the role of school closures.

The researchers acknowledge the limitations of this study. Many reports relied on clinical diagnoses or were based on surveillance data or were limited to hospitalised patients. It was not possible to carry out a formal systematic review because finding sufficiently detailed age-specific information for different diseases is not straightforward. Few studies have been done to look at the effect of age on disease outcomes, so the researchers collated information from many different types of study. To ensure unbiased reporting, all identified studies with sufficient information were included in the review, whatever age-pattern they showed.

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Tips for walking 20,000 steps a day

To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds.



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To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips to help you reach your goal:

Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes

The first step to walking 20,000 steps a day is to make sure you have the right equipment. Investing in a good pair of walking shoes will help to prevent blisters and injuries, and make the walk more comfortable overall.

Make Walking Part of Your Daily Routine

To reach your 10-mile goal every day, make walking a part of your daily routine. This might mean taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from where you’re going so that you have to walk more. You can also try waking up a few minutes earlier each morning to fit in a walk before you start your day.

Join a Walking Group

If you’re having trouble finding time to fit in 10 miles each day, consider joining a walking group or taking part in a local 5k race. This will help keep you motivated and provide social support along the way.

Start Small

Don’t try to walk 20,000 steps all at once. Start with a smaller goal, such as 5,000 steps per day, and gradually increase your mileage as you become more fit. This will help you avoid injury and burnout.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure to stay hydrated while walking by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will help you feel more energized and prevent dehydration-related issues, such as muscle cramps or fatigue.

The Bottom Line – BetterMe Can Help You Walk More, Every Day

If you’re looking to improve your overall health, walking 20,000 steps a day can help. This simple form of exercise offers a host of health benefits, from improved sleep and digestion to reduced stress and anxiety. To reach your goal, use the BetterMe Blog as a guide and stay committed every day. With enough dedication, you can achieve your fitness goals and transform your body for the better.

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How can the self-employed tackle burnout? Expert shares top tips

Self-employed people such as business owners or freelancers may be more susceptible to burnout due to long working hours and the weight of responsibility that they carry.



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With workers returning to the office in their greatest numbers since the pandemic, the number of people suffering from burnout or stress-related illnesses is also on the rise.

Self-employed people such as business owners or freelancers may be more susceptible to burnout due to long working hours and the weight of responsibility that they carry. 

For many work and life have become intertwined, fortunately, Private Rehab Clinic Delamere has shared tips on how you can tackle burnout when self-employed and the common signs.  

How you can tackle burnout

1. Set Goals and Priorities

Having a mountain of work, with no plan in place to move forward can sometimes feel overwhelming. It can help to take a step back to assess which of your tasks need prioritising, and which ones will help you to achieve your goals.  

2. Speak to Your Colleagues or Clients

Being honest with the people that you are working with or for, about your mental health can often make things a lot a lot easier. You may be surprised at how understanding other people are of your situation.

By being open with others, you will have a better understanding of what to expect from each other, meaning that you will have a stronger professional relationship going forward.

3. Ask for Help

Never be afraid to ask for help if you feel that your stress is becoming too much to handle and you start to show signs of burnout. Getting external advice through counselling or therapy can give you a new perspective on a situation to guide you through any problems.

If you do not feel comfortable with counselling, then simply reaching out to friends and family can be enough to help you talk through your problems.

4. Schedule Time-Off

Sometimes when work life is becoming too stressful, all you need to do is take a short break from it all. Returning to work after a much-needed break can give a person a more positive mindset.

Those who are self-employed are often in charge of their own schedule and can over look the need to take holidays. In fact, some surveys have shown that nearly one in ten business owners go up to five years without taking a holiday.

5. Consider Changing Things

If your line of work is causing you constant stress and it feels that there truly is no way out, then it may be worth considering if you are genuinely following the right career path for you.

It may be the case that you do not need to change your career path altogether, but that your daily work routine simply needs to be altered. Consider making small changes such as your place of work. If you are stuck in an office or at home all day, you may benefit from finding a co-working space or coffee shop to work in.

Sometimes changes can be as simple as investing in new equipment or simply taking more regular breaks from your working day. By implementing these small changes you are less likely to burnout from stress.

6. Put Self-Care First

Work-life can be demanding, especially for any self-employed people who are under pressure to meet deadlines for various clients. However, when we demand too much of ourselves, it can be damaging to our physical and mental health.

Remind yourself that you come first. Maintaining a healthy sleeping and eating pattern, while keeping up a rewarding social life and strong relationships is more important to your mental well-being than anything you do while on the clock. 

Spotting the signs of burnout

1. Feeling Tired All The Time

If you are waking up feeling exhausted and find that you are still feeling drained even after you have been awake for a few hours and a cup of coffee in your system, then this may be a sign that you have burnout.

2. Lack of Motivation

During burnout, a person may find themselves completely withdrawn from their workplace or work tasks. Simply going through the motions while at work without any kind of motivation – or taking no joy whatsoever from your accomplishments at work – could indicate that you are experiencing burnout.

3. Recurring Health Problems

A person suffering from burnout may experience frequent and recurring headaches and muscle pains, as well as feelings of indigestion and stomach aches.

4. Feeling Irritable

Finding yourself easily irritated or frustrated, even by small things, and then snapping out at others is a possible sign that you are carrying too much stress from work.

6. Self-Deprecating Feelings

When someone is suffering from burnout it can have serious effects on their mental health. A person can have a heightened sense of self-doubt, feel like a failure and even experience impostor syndrome.

A person with burnout may also experience increased feelings of isolation and detachment from their colleagues, friends and family.

7. Increased Procrastination

When burnout occurs a person may find themselves avoiding their responsibilities, regardless of how small those responsibilities may be. Instead, a person will fill their time with procrastination and indulging in comforting distractions.

8. Coping Mechanisms

During burnout, a person may be more likely to turn to other comforts and coping mechanisms such as comfort eating junk food or even consuming alcohol and/or drugs. Engaging in any habit excessively to cope with stress may be a sign of burnout.

9. Change in Sleeping and Eating Habits

Stress can mess with our natural cycle and someone who is experiencing unnaturally high levels of stress may find that their sleeping habits are altered as they end up staying up late and sleeping in.

A person may also find themselves skipping or avoiding regular meal times, having a loss of appetite at some points in the day, or craving comforting junk food at others.

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6 Exercise safety tips

Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.



In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are more aware of their health and wellness. Now, as social restrictions ease, you may find yourself stepping up your workouts, whether you’re training for an event or working to improve your game in a recreational league.

Sprains, strains and injuries can happen to even the most seasoned athletes. When you’re testing your limits, even a minor injury can alter your performance. Consider products and supports like these from the CURAD Performance Series product line, available at Walmart and Amazon, to help you get back in the game quickly and safely.

Find more resources to support your fitness journey at

Keep Dirt and Germs Away

The more active you are, the harder it can be to find a bandage that stays with you all day or all game long.

Spray Away Sore Spots

Controlling mild pain can help keep you at the top of your game, and a topical analgesic works fast to heal common pain brought on by fitness and exercise, such as pain in knees, feet, shoulders and backs.

Put Pain in the Past

When recovery becomes the name of the game and pain relief is needed after daily workouts or bodily injuries. Cold packs work to heal bruises, reduce swelling and relieve headaches and general pain points while microwavable heat packs provide satisfying heat therapy to address sore and stiff joints, muscle cramps and tension.

Reduce Impact of Knee Strain

Weak, injured or arthritic knees can come from many sources, including tendonitis and a wide range of conditions that result in strain or overuse. An adjustable band can provide support for on-field sports and during workouts or everyday activities.

Manage Pain and Relieve Pressure

If you participate in endurance and strength exercises or certain sports, you may ask a lot of your joints. Kinesiology tape can be configured a multitude of ways to help reduce pain and improve blood circulation, as well as relieve tension and pressure.

Control Back Strain

When your back is strained, your body and performance can suffer. A mild or moderate sprain can benefit from strong support and compression.

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