Infections are never fun or easy to cope with. Whether it’s a sinus, ear or lung infection, they disrupt everyday life, cause pain and force some to miss work or school. For most, these infections are infrequent and clear up with proper care and medication. However, some have recurring infections caused by an immune deficiency. Immune deficiency is commonly caused by genetics and roughly 250,000 Americans suffer from it.
When working properly, the immune system helps defend the body against attacks from viruses, bacteria and allergens, but occasionally the immune system can’t fight, leaving one sick. For most, this is merely part of life, but for some, it is chronic and has a deep impact on everyday activities.
Those who suffer from infections three or more times a year may have an immune deficiency. Both children and adults can suffer and the long-term side effects can be dangerous. Recurring infections can lead to swollen lymph glands, chronic rashes, an enlarged spleen, and poor growth or weight loss.
Several infections a year aren’t uncommon for children, but not for a healthy adult. When infections don’t respond to typical treatment, it may be a sign of an immune deficiency.
Immunodeficiency is possible for those who experience:
- Eight or more ear infections in a year
- Two or more sinus infections in a year
- Little improvement with antibiotics over two months
- Two or more bouts of pneumonia in a year
- Recurrent, deep skin or organ abscesses
- Failure of an infant to gain weight or grow normally
- Persistent thrush in mouth or elsewhere on skin, after age one
- Need for I.V. antibiotics to clear infections
- Two or more serious infections such as meningitis, or bone, skin infection, or blood infection
- Rapid recurrence of an infection
Managing and treating immune deficiency requires a skilled doctor. The goal is to reduce symptoms and keep patients from suffering frequently, so that they can live a normal, everyday life, but also to prevent damage to the ears, lungs, and sinuses, which, if damaged, could cause detrimental problems.
Options include prophylactic antibiotics during viral season to help the body fight off any threats, and replacement therapy for those who suffer from inadequate immunoglobulins.
While suffering several times a year might seem par for the course, it isn’t. Seek out a specialist to help diagnose the problem. The board certified allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists can help determine why a patient is recurrently suffering. By giving patients a physical examination, doing blood work, taking into consideration the patient’s typical environment, and, when necessary, skin tests, the allergists are able to determine the problem. Taking those results into consideration with the patient’s medical history, the allergist can seek an appropriate course of treatment, whether that’s an antibiotic or immunological replacement.
To schedule a visit with the board certified allergists/immunologists of A&AS at one of the eight convenient locations, call 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2.