Immunodeficiency is the term used for failure of the immune system to combat infections effectively. as a result of immunodeficiency, infections develop more frequently than normal and are greater threat to health. Infections that would not normally seriously affect a healthy person may be life-threatening in someone with immunodeficiency. They include viral infections, such as shingles and chickenpox, both of which are caused by herpes zoster and cause only mild illness if the immune system is normal.
Immunodeficiency may be present for birth, in which case it is often hereditary. More commonly, the deficiency in a personâ€™s immune system develops later in life, and in such cases the condition is given the name acquired immunodeficiency.
Worldwide, acquired immunodeficiency is most often associated with malnutrition or with infection with the human immunodeficiency virus.
What are the causes?
In aids, the human immunodeficiency virus destroys a particular type of white blood cell, and this causes progressive immunodeficiency.
Infections such as measles influenza damage the body’s ability to fight infection.They do this partly by reducing the number white blood cells involved in fighting the infection. Usually, this type of immunodeficiency is mild, and the immune system returns to normal once the person has recovered from the infection.
A mild form of immunodeficiency may develop in some chronic disorders, including diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis. this may occur partly because these diseases put stress in the immune system, reducing its ability to resist other diseases.
Certain types of cancer, particularly tumors of the lymphatic system, may cause a more severe form of immunodeficiency by damaging the cells of the immune system and by reducing the production of normal white blood cells.
The long-term use of corticosteroids suppresses the immune system and has the inevitable effect of causing immunodeficiency. Immunosuppressant drugs, which may be given to prevent the rejection of an organ following transplant surgery, also produce immunodeficiency and affect the body’s ability to fight infections. chemotherapy can damage the bone marrow, where the majority of blood cells are made, and may also lead to acquired immunodeficiency.
Immunodeficiency may also develop after removal of the spleen, an organ in which some of the white blood cells are produced. Splenectomy may be performed if the spleen has been damaged by an injury or else it may be carried out to treat various disorders including hereditary spherocytosis, which is a type of hemolytic anemia.
There are also many rare types of acquired immunodeficiency, the causes of which are not clear. one rare type is immunoglobulin a deficiency, in which levels of immunoglobulin a antibodies are lower than normal, leading to an increased number of skin infections.
What might be done?
Your doctor may suspect immunodeficiency if you have recurrent infections. to confirm the diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency, you may need to have blood tests that measure the levels of white blood cells and antibodies.
if immunodeficiency is due to drug treatment, it may be possible to reduce the dose or stop taking the drug. when an underlying cause cannot be eliminated, treatment is aimed at reducing risk of infection and combating infections as they occur. your doctor may suggest continual low doses of antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and/or antifungal drugs and various immunizations, such as pneumococcus vaccine to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia.
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The effects of immunodeficiency can usually be controlled by treatment, although immunodeficiency due to HIV infection tends to worsen over time.
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Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.