Definition

What is immunodeficiency disorder?

The immune system is made up of lymphoid tissue in the body, Proteins and cells in the blood are also part of the immune system.

The immune system helps protect the body from harmful substances called antigens. Examples of antigens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and foreign blood or tissues from another person or species. When the immune system detects an antigen, it responds by producing proteins called antibodies that destroy the harmful substances.

Immunodeficiency disorders disrupt your body’s ability to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. There are two types of immunodeficiency disorders: those you are born with (primary), and those that are acquired (secondary). Anything that weakens your immune system can lead to a secondary immunodeficiency disorder.

Immunodeficiency disorders prevent your body from fighting infections and diseases. This type of disorder makes it easier for you to catch viruses and bacterial infections. Immunodeficiency disorders are either congenital or acquired. A congenital, or primary, disorder is one you were born with. Acquired, or secondary, disorders you get later in life. Acquired disorders are more common than congenital disorders.

How common is immunodeficiency disorder?

Immunodeficiency disorder can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of immunodeficiency disorder?

The common symptoms of immunodeficiency disorder are:

  • Pinkeye
  • Sinus infections
  • Colds
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Yeast infections

If these problems don’t respond to treatment or you don’t completely get better over time, your doctor might test you for an immunodeficiency disorder.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes immunodeficiency disorder?

Immunodeficiency disorders may affect any part of the immune system, which includes:

  • Bone marrow
  • Lymph nodes
  • Parts of the spleen and gastrointestinal tract
  • Thymus
  • Tonsils

Most often, these conditions occur when special white blood cells do not function normally or your body does not produce enough antibodies.

Inherited immunodeficiency disorders that affect white blood cells include:

  • Hypogammaglobulinemia, which usually leads to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
  • Agammaglobulinemia, which results in severe infections early in life, and is often deadly.

People are said to be immunosuppressed when they have an immunodeficiency disorder due to medicines that weaken the immune system (such as corticosteroids). Immunosuppression is also a common side effect of chemotherapy given to treat cancer.

Acquired immunodeficiency may be a complication of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malnutrition (especially if the person does not eat enough protein). Many cancers may also cause immunodeficiency.

People who have had their spleen removed have an acquired immunodeficiency, and are at higher risk for infection by certain bacteria that the spleen would normally help fight. People with diabetes are also at higher risk for certain infections.

As you get older, the immune system becomes less effective. Immune system tissues (especially lymphoid tissue such as the thymus) shrink, and the number and activity of white blood cells drop.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for immunodeficiency disorder?

The following conditions and diseases can lead to an immunodeficiency disorder:

  • Ataxia-telangiectasia
  • Complement deficiencies
  • DiGeorge syndrome
  • Hypogammaglobulinemia
  • Job syndrome
  • Leukocyte adhesion defects
  • Bruton disease
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is immunodeficiency disorder diagnosed?

If your doctor thinks you might have an immunodeficiency disorder, they will want to do the following:

  • Ask you about your medical history
  • Perform A Physical Exam
  • Determine your white blood cell count
  • Determine your T cell count
  • Determine your immunoglobulin levels

Vaccines can test your immune system response in what is called an antibody test. Your doctor will give you a vaccine. Then they will test your blood for its response to the vaccine a few days or weeks later.

If you don’t have an immunodeficiency disorder, your immune system will produce antibodies to fight the organisms in the vaccine. You might have a disorder if your blood test doesn’t show antibodies.

How is immunodeficiency disorder treated?

The treatment for each immunodeficiency disorder will depend on the specific conditions. For example, AIDS causes several different infections. Your doctor will prescribe medications for each infection. And you may be given an antiretroviral to treat and HIV infection if appropriate.

Treatment for immunodeficiency disorders commonly includes antibiotics and immunoglobulin therapy. Other antiviral drugs, amantadine and acyclovir, or a drug called interferon are used for treatment of the viral infections caused by immunodeficiency disorders.

If your bone marrow isn’t producing enough lymphocytes, your doctor might order a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage immunodeficiency disorder?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Immunodeficiency Disorder:

  • Practicing safer sex and avoiding the sharing of body fluids may help prevent HIV/AIDS.
  • Good nutrition may prevent acquired immunodeficiency caused by malnutrition.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: March 10, 2017 | Last Modified: March 10, 2017

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