Do you suffer from recurring sinus and ear infections? Do your flu-like symptoms not respond to antibiotics? Do you have symptoms that lead on to full blown episodes such as bronchitis that leads on to pneumonia? You may have an immune disorder.
The US Immune Deficiency Foundation claims that there are at least 250,000 Americans suffering from this and many more go undiagnosed. Its symptoms are easily missed. Sadly, if not diagnosed early, it may lead to organ damage or disability.
In immunodeficiency disorders, the body’s white blood cells or lymphocytes don’t produce antibodies or immunoglobulins to fight infections, hence leaving the person vulnerable.
Kinds of immunodeficiency disorders
These disorders are usually present at birth and most likely hereditary. They typically become evident in infancy or childhood. There are more than 100 primary immunodeficiency disorders, and all relatively rare.
As they develop later in life, they can be the result of the use of certain drug (such as immunosuppressants) or the result of another disorder (such as diabetes or HIV). They are more common than primary immunodeficiency disorders. For example, diabetes may result in an immunodeficiency disorder because white blood cells do not function well when the blood sugar level is high.
Looking out for secondary immunodeficiency disorders
- A family history
- Frequent use of antibiotics that don’t seem to help
- Regular ear or sinus infections
- Commonly suffer from symptoms that lead on to severe bacterial infections that persist, recur and lead to complications Eg. Sore throats and head colds that progress to pneumonia
- Recurring infections of the mouth, eyes and digestive tract Eg. Thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth, chronic gum disease (gingivitis)
- Symptoms may vary depending on severity and duration of infections
What can you do?
If you suspect you may be suffering from an immunodeficiency disorder,
- Consult your doctor who will recommend carrying out a laboratory test to see if you are, and to find out what kind of immune system abnormality you may be suffering from
- Some of the disorders can be prevented or treated. For example, to avoid an HIV infection, practice safe sex and not sharing needles
- Stop taking immmunosuppressants unless absolutely necessary
- Gain a good control of your blood sugar levels so white blood cells can function better and thus, prevent infections
- Don’t eat undercooked food
- Avoid drinking water that may be contaminated
- Avoid contact with people who have infections
Stem Cell Transplant
This can correct some immunodeficiency disorders, particularly severe combined immunodeficiency. In this procedure, healthy stem cells are harvested from a bone marrow or blood and transplanted into the patient’s area of need to replace the damaged or diseased cells there.