What is an
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.
Your immune system includes the following organs:
- bone marrow
- lymph nodes
These organs make and release lymphocytes.
These are white blood cells classified as B cells and T cells. B and T cells
fight invaders called antigens. B cells release antibodies specific to the
disease your body detects. T cells destroy foreign or abnormal cells.
Examples of antigens that your B and T cells
might need to fight off include:
- cancer cells
An immunodeficiency disorder disrupts your
body’s ability to defend itself against these antigens.
What are the
different types of immunodeficiency disorders?
An immune deficiency disease occurs when the immune system is not working
properly. If you are born with a deficiency or if there is a genetic cause, it
is called primary immunodeficiency disease. There are more than 100 primary
Examples of primary immunodeficiency
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA)
- common variable immunodeficiency
- severe combined immunodeficiency
(SCID), which is known as alymphocytosis or “boy in a bubble” disease
Secondary immunodeficiency disorders happen
when an outside source like a toxic chemical or infection attacks your body. The
following can cause a secondary immunodeficiency disorder:
- severe burns
Examples of secondary immunodeficiency disorders
- cancers of the immune system,
- immune-complex diseases, like
- multiple myeloma (cancer of the
plasma cells, which produce antibodies)
Who is at risk for
have a family history of primary immunodeficiency disorders have a
higher-than-normal risk for developing primary disorders.
that weakens your immune system can lead to a secondary immunodeficiency
disorder. For example, exposure to bodily fluids infected with HIV, or removing
the spleen can be causes. Spleen removal may be necessary because of conditions
like cirrhosis of the liver, sickle cell anemia, or trauma to the spleen.
weakens your immune system. As you age, some of the organs that produce white
blood cells shrink and produce fewer of them.
important for your immunity. Not enough protein in your diet can weaken your immune
system. Your body also produces proteins when you sleep that help your body
fight infection. For this reason, lack of sleep reduces your immune defenses. Cancers
and chemotherapy drugs can also reduce your immunity.
following diseases and conditions are linked to primary immunodeficiency
- Chediak-Higashi syndrome
- combined immunodeficiency disease
- complement deficiencies
- DiGeorge syndrome
- Job syndrome
- leukocyte adhesion defects
- Bruton’s disease
- congenital agammaglobulinemia
- selective deficiency of IgA
- Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
Signs of an
disorder has unique symptoms that can be frequent or chronic. Some of these
symptoms can include:
- sinus infections
- yeast infections
problems don’t respond to treatment or you don’t completely get better over
time, your doctor might test you for an immunodeficiency disorder.
How are immune
doctor thinks you might have an immunodeficiency disorder, they will want to do
- ask you about your medical
- perform a physical exam
- determine your white blood cell
- determine your T cell count
- determine your immunoglobulin
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.
immunodeficiency disorders treated?
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.
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
If your bone
marrow isn’t producing enough lymphocytes, your doctor might order a bone
marrow (stem cell) transplant.
immunodeficiency disorders be prevented?
Primary immunodeficiency disorders can be
controlled and treated, but they can’t be prevented.
Secondary disorders can be prevented in a
number of ways. For example, it’s possible to prevent yourself from getting
AIDS by not having unprotected sex with someone who carries HIV.
Sleep is very important for a healthy immune
system. According to the Mayo Clinic,
adults need about eight hours of sleep per night. It’s also important that you
stay away from people who are sick if your immune system isn’t working
If you have a contagious immunodeficiency
disorder like AIDS, you can keep others healthy by practicing safe sex and not
sharing bodily fluids with people who aren’t infected.
What is the outlook
for someone with an immunodeficiency disorder?
agree that people with immunodeficiency disorders can lead full and productive
lives. Early identification and treatment of the disorder is very important.