When part of the body’s immune system is either absent or not functioning properly, it can result in an immune deficiency disease. When the cause is hereditary or genetic, it’s called a primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD).
The immune system is designed to protect and defend against attacks by “foreign” invaders such as germs, bacteria and fungi. The system is comprised of white blood cells manufactured in the body’s bone marrow. The white blood cells travel through the bloodstream and lymph nodes.
In the most common PIDDs, different forms of these white blood cells are missing, creating a pattern of repeated infections, severe infections and/or infections that are unusually hard to cure. These infections attack the skin, the ears, the brain or spinal cord, the respiratory system, or the uniary or gastrointestinal tracts.
PIDD can target specific organs, glands, cells and tissues. Some PIDDs cause heart defects, others alter facial features, some stunt normal growth and others are connected to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Immunodeficiency Disease Symptoms & Diagnosis
Serious PIDDs commonly become apparent during infancy. Milder forms often take a pattern of recurring infections before PIDD is suspected. In some cases, a PIDD may not be diagnosed until a patient reaches their 20s or 30s.
Important indicators for PIDD include:
- Recurrent, unusual or difficult to treat infections
- Recurrent pneumonia, ear infections or sinusitis
- Poor growth or loss of weight
- Multiple courses of antibiotics or IV antibiotics necessary to clear infections
- Recurrent deep abscesses of the organs or skin
- A family history of PIDD
- Swollen lymph glands or an enlarged spleen
- Autoimmune disease
Some immunodeficiency disorders are not hereditary or genetic. A secondary immune deficiency disease occurs when the immune system is compromised due to an environmental factor, such as HIV, chemotherapy, severe burns or malnutrion.
Immunodeficiency Disease Treatment & Management
PIDD research is making great strides, improving treatment options and enhancing the quality of life for most people with these complex conditions.
If you or your child have are experiencing these symptoms, you want the best care available. The award-winning allergy/immunology physicians on the Allergy & Asthma Consultants staff has specialized training and expertise to accurately diagnose and coordinate a PIDD treatment plan.