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Immunodeficiencies

:Learn more about immunodeficiencies and how to diagnose, treat, and manage them to keep your family healthy.
2023-03-11

Review of Immunodeficiencies

The human immune system is a complex network of cells and molecules that are responsible for defending the body against infectious agents, such as bacteria and viruses. When the immune system is functioning properly, it is able to recognize and respond to foreign invaders, destroying them and preventing disease. However, when the immune system is not functioning properly, individuals can be at risk for a variety of diseases and infections. Immunodeficiencies are a group of conditions in which the immune system is either absent or functioning at an impaired level, resulting in an increased susceptibility to infection.

Types of Immunodeficiencies

Immunodeficiencies can be classified into three main categories: primary, secondary, and congenital. Primary immunodeficiencies are caused by a genetic defect that affects the function of the immune system. Secondary immunodeficiencies are caused by an external factor, such as an infection or a drug, that impairs the immune system’s ability to function properly. congenital immunodeficiencies are caused by an abnormality present at birth, such as a chromosomal abnormality or a birth defect.

Primary immunodeficiencies can be further divided into several different subtypes, including antibody deficiencies, cell-mediated immunodeficiencies, combined immunodeficiencies, and phagocytic deficiencies.

Antibody deficiencies are caused by a defect in the B-cells, which are responsible for producing antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and bind to foreign invaders, marking them for destruction by other cells of the immune system. People with antibody deficiencies are more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

Cell-mediated immunodeficiencies are caused by a defect in the T-cells, which are responsible for recognizing and destroying foreign cells. People with cell-mediated immunodeficiencies are more susceptible to infections caused by viruses, fungi, and protozoans.

Combined immunodeficiencies are caused by a defect in both the B-cells and the T-cells. People with combined immunodeficiencies are at an increased risk for a variety of infections, including bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Phagocytic deficiencies are caused by a defect in the white blood cells responsible for engulfing and destroying foreign cells. People with phagocytic deficiencies are more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of an immunodeficiency is based on a combination of clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory tests, and family history.

Clinical signs and symptoms of an immunodeficiency can include recurrent infections, unusual infections, slow healing of wounds, and failure to gain weight.

Laboratory tests can be used to identify an immunodeficiency, such as a complete blood count, a white blood cell count, and an immunoglobulin level.

Family history can be an important factor in diagnosing an immunodeficiency, as some immunodeficiencies are inherited.

Treatment

The treatment of an immunodeficiency depends on the type and severity of the condition.

Antibody deficiencies can be treated with immunoglobulin replacement therapy, which involves receiving regular injections of immunoglobulins.

Cell-mediated immunodeficiencies can be treated with antiviral medications, antifungal medications, and immunosuppressive medications.

Combined immunodeficiencies can be treated with antibiotics, antiviral medications, antifungal medications, and immunosuppressive medications.

Phagocytic deficiencies can be treated with antibiotics and antifungal medications.

In addition to medication, individuals with immunodeficiencies should take steps to prevent infections, such as avoiding people who are sick, washing their hands often, and avoiding large crowds.

Conclusion

Immunodeficiencies are a group of conditions in which the immune system is either absent or functioning at an impaired level. Immunodeficiencies can be classified into three main categories: primary, secondary, and congenital. The diagnosis of an immunodeficiency is based on a combination of clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory tests, and family history. The treatment of an immunodeficiency depends on the type and severity of the condition. In addition to medication, individuals with immunodeficiencies should take steps to prevent infections.

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