Everything There Is To Know About Immune Deficiency

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immune deficiency

What is an immune deficiency?

Our immune system protects our body from germs, viruses, and other threats. But sometimes, it gets sidetracked and does not function properly. When this happens, it can result in an immune deficiency (or sometimes called immunodeficiency) disorder. According to James Fernandez an immunologist from Cleveland Clinic, immunodeficiency disorders weaken the immune system’s ability to defend our body against foreign or abnormal cells. This will result inSchedule an appointment a higher risk of infection that develops and recur more frequently, are more severe, and last longer than usual.

what is immune deficiency

  • Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders (PIDD) – those disorders that are usually present from the day a person was born. People who have primary immunodeficiency disorders are more susceptible to germs that can cause infections because some of their body’s immune defenses are not working properly. These disorders are typically evident during infancy or childhood. However, there are also some primary immunodeficiency disorders that go unnoticed for years and don’t manifest until adulthood. There are more than 100 primary immunodeficiency disorders and all of them are relatively rare.
  • Secondary Immunodeficiency Disorders – those immunodeficiency disorders that generally develop later in life and those that resulted from the use of certain drugs or medications. This can also develop from another disease such as diabetes or human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) infection. Compared to PIDD, secondary immunodeficiency disorders are more common in people. 

It is important to note that some immunodeficiency disorders can shorten one’s life span while others persist throughout life. Furthermore, there a few that cannot affect the life span of a person and can be resolved with or without treatment.


What are the causes of immune deficiency? 

There are many different causes leading to the impairment of the immune system. The most common causes of immune deficiency worldwide include factors such as malnutrition, severe burns, poor sanitary conditions, and human immune deficiency virus (HIV) infection. Old age can also be one of the causes of immune deficiency. As people age, the immune system becomes less effective in several ways. Other causes of immune deficiency may include medications, radiotherapy, stress after surgery, and malignant tumors of the bone marrow, and the lymph nodes.


What are the signs and symptoms? 

As mentioned earlier, people who have an immune deficiency are more susceptible to get infections and tend to have one infection after another, which leads to having an immunodeficiency disorder. Although each disorder has unique symptoms that can be frequent or chronic, some of the common symptoms may include:

immune deficiency symptoms

  • Sinus infections
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Colds
  • Recurrent deeps abscesses of the organs or skin
  • Pneumonia
  • History of a primary immunodeficiency disorder
  • Diarrhea
  • Often have fever or chills
  • Poor growth or loss of weight
  • Pinkeye
  • Recurrent and difficult infections
  • Swollen lymph glands or enlarged spleen

If these symptoms are difficult to treat, don’t respond to medications, or don’t completely get better over time, you might need to to a doctor or an immunologist to test for an immunodeficiency disorder.


How are immune deficiency diagnosed? 

If you think that you have an immunodeficiency disorder, then you need to consult an allergist or an immunologist. He or she might perform the following to determine whether you have an immune disorder or not:

  • Ask about your medical history
  • Determine your white blood cell count
  • Check your T cell count
  • Perform a skin test
  • Conduct genetic testing
  • Determine your antibody levels
  • Perform a physical exam

The doctor may also perform an antibody test by giving you a vaccine and see how your immune system will respond. The doctor will test your blood for any reaction to the vaccine a few days or weeks later after the test was performed.


How are immune deficiency treated?

The treatment for each immunodeficiency disorder will depend on specific conditions. For instance, AIDS can cause different infections. Your doctor may prescribe different medications for each infection. It is also possible that the doctor will give you an antiretroviral to treat an HIV infection if needed.

Research in primary immunodeficiency disorders is now making great strides especially in improving treatment options. Some of the treatments available for immunodeficiency disorders include transplantation (bone marrow, stem cell, thymus), antibody replacement, and preventative antibiotics. Gene therapy has also been proven to be a success in treating some specific types of PIDD.

If you or someone you know has manifested symptoms that were mentioned above, it is best to seek help from an allergist or immunologist. If you don’t happen to know one, then you may visit Dr. Paul Jantzi in College Station. He is board-certified in allergy and immunology with prior training in pediatrics and internal medicine. He provides professional allergy, asthma, and immunology services to clients at numerous locations in the Brazos Valley region. Schedule an appointment with him and let him treat your immune deficiency disorder.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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