Epidemiological data suggest that previous infections can alter an individual's susceptibility to unrelated diseases. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. Substantial research efforts have expanded the classical concept of immune memory to also include long‐lasting changes in innate immunity and antigen‐independent reactivation of adaptive immunity. Collectively, these processes provide possible explanations on how acute infections might induce long‐term changes that also affect immunity to unrelated diseases. Here, we review lasting changes the immune compartment undergoes upon infection and how infection experience alters the responsiveness of immune cells towards universal signals. This heightened state of alert enhances the ability of the immune system to combat even unrelated infections but may also increase susceptibility to autoimmunity. At the same time, infection‐induced changes in the regulatory compartment may dampen subsequent immune responses and promote pathogen persistence. The concepts presented here outline how infection‐induced changes in the immune system may affect human health.