Immune deficiency symptoms

The immune system is an incredible construction of interacting elements. It’s the body’s incredible defense against foreign invaders in the body. When the immune system isn’t working as it should, the foreign invaders can do more damage than they normally would. The cause of this poor working immune system, called immune deficiency, varies, but some people are born with it. In fact, there are two main types of immune deficiency. Primary immune deficiency is inherited or due to a gene defect, while secondary immune deficiency is when another illness compromises the immune system, such as is the case with HIV/AIDS.

The Immune System
The immune system is a complex organization of organs, tissues, cells, and proteins that fight against foreign invaders. Foreign invaders—germs or pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites—are disease-causing, or they produce some negative effect on the body. If there are too many of them, they make us sick in some way. The different components of the immune system—organs, tissues, cells, and proteins—work together and communicate with each other as a team to fight the attacks brought on by these invaders. The major organs involved are the liver, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, tonsils, lymph nodes, and blood. It’s good to understand the difference between an immune deficiency and an autoimmune disease because they are not the same. An immune deficiency is when part of the immune system is missing or not functioning, and an autoimmune disease is when the body’s own immune system attacks its cells and tissues.

Symptoms of Immune Deficiency
In those with immune deficiency, recurring infections are frequent and hard to cure because one or more pieces to the system are missing or not functioning as they should. The following is a list of symptoms that will help you recognize if you have an immune deficiency. This type of deficiency is typically caught during the childhood years, so it is important to look for these symptoms; it can be caught in adults at times.

In Children

  • Two or more serious sinus infections in one year
  • Two or more months on antibiotics with little effect
  • Need for intravenous antibiotics to clear infections
  • Two or more severe infections, like septicemia
  • Two or more cases of pneumonia in one year
  • Four or more new ear infections in one year
  • Failure of an infant to gain weight and grow normally
  • Recurrent, deep skin or organ abscesses
  • Persistent mouth thrush
  • Persistent fungal infection on the skin
  • Family history of primary immune deficiency

In Adults

  • Two or more new ear infections within one year
  • Two or more sinus infections within one year in a person without allergies
  • Chronic diarrhea with weight loss
  • Recurrent viral infections, like colds, herpes, warts, or condyloma
  • Recurrent, deep abscesses in the skin or organs
  • Persistent thrush in the mouth
  • Persistent fungal infections
  • Infection caused by normally harmless bacteria
  • Family history of primary immune deficiency

Other Symptoms
Other problems that are commonly experienced in those with immune deficiency are conjunctivitis, diarrhea, and MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections. Conjunctivitis is a problem in the eyes when they ooze pus and become red. Diarrhea is a very frequent problem in immune deficient individuals caused by an infection or overgrowth of the normal bacteria present in the gastrointestinal tract. For diarrhea associated with pain or bloating, a stool sample is necessary to look at to check the organism causing the problem; an antibiotic treatment is sometimes required. Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that is normally present on the skin in most people, but it can cause an opportunistic infection in those with primary immune deficiency. Unfortunately, some strains of the bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic that is typically used to treat these infections, so another one must be used.

Last updated on Dec 28th, 2010 and filed under Immune System. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed