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    Immunodeficiencies
    Banner - Cancer Institute Apollo Hospital - Bangalore

    Immunodeficiencies

    Immunodeficiency arises from the impairment of the defence mechanisms of the body resulting in repeated microbial infections and other severe diseases due to compromised immune systems. Lack of a properly functioning immune system or complete absence of one can make a patient highly susceptible to various infections and even to more serious conditions, such as cancer.

     Who is at risk of immunodeficiency diseases?

    Immunodeficiencies can be caused by developmental defects, and they may be hereditary in many cases. In many others, the gradual slowing down of the bodily mechanisms may trigger immunodeficiency diseases.

    1. Hereditary: Certain immunodeficiency diseases may be present innately or may be acquired. These may be characterised by recurrent or overwhelming infections occurring in early childhood. They have a high chance of passing it to their offspring due to the hereditary nature of the immunodeficiency diseases acquired.
    2. Ageing: Ageing weakens the body’s natural defence mechanism. Such deficiency diseases appearing at a later stage in life may lead to a more specific deficiency at a cellular or humoral level. Aged people may be producing lesser white blood cells to fight off infections or may have defects in T cells and B cells.
    3. Combined: Patients may experience combined deficiency at the cellular and humoral level or have enzyme defects or other severe defects.

    Patients with cancer undergoing treatment through chemotherapy and medications may also have weakened immune systems leading to various immunodeficiency diseases.

     What are the symptoms of immunodeficiency diseases?

    Immunodeficiency may be grouped into primary and secondary.

    • Primary immunodeficiency may be caused as a result of abnormalities in the development of immune mechanisms.
    • Secondary immunodeficiency may be a consequence of any serious disease or may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, drug abuse, and other processes that interfere with the proper functioning of the human immune system.

    Repeated and frequently occurring viral infections are the first signs of immunodeficiency diseases. The occurrence of severe, persistent and recurrent bacterial infection is a more definite symptom of developing an immunodeficiency disease.

    Immunodeficiency may also lead to problems in the gastrointestinal system. Some of the common gastrointestinal problems caused due to immunodeficiency include diarrhoea, malabsorption, and failure to gain or lose weight.

    Signs & symptoms that may indicate the presence of primary immunodeficiency may include one or more than one or a combination of the following:

    • Autoimmune disease
    • A family history of PIDD
    • Recurring deep abscesses of the organs or skin
    • Infections which are recurrent, unusual or difficult to treat
    • Inability to gain or lose weight
    • Recurrent pneumonia, sinusitis or ear infections
    • Swollen lymph glands
    • Enlarged Spleen

    There may be other accompanying symptoms of immunodeficiency diseases which must not be ignored. These signs and symptoms include one or more or a combination of the following:

    • Pinkeye
    • Pneumonia
    • Diarrhoea
    • Sinus Infections
    • Yeast Infections
    • Catching Cold

    How are immunodeficiencies diagnosed?

    Diagnostic services at Apollo Hospitals are given utmost importance to provide the most accurate evaluation of symptoms and conditions for planning a personalised treatment regime. The consulting doctor may ask for a family history of illnesses or the patient’s medical history. A physical examination may also be performed in order alongside other confirmatory tests, which include the following.

    • Blood tests: Decreased production of certain infection-fighting proteins known as immunoglobulin may be the cause of a weakened immune system. Blood tests may help determine the level of production of such proteins. Blood tests may also help determine if the immune system is able to fight antibodies effectively.
    • Prenatal tests: Parents with a child suffering from immunodeficiency may want to take precautions in case of future pregnancies. In such cases, tests may be performed on samples of the amniotic fluid, placental cells or tissues, etc.

    What treatments are available for immunodeficiencies?

    Following a diagnosis, management of primary symptoms may be necessary for preventing and treating infections and thereby boosting the immune system. Sometimes, immunodeficiency may be interconnected to other serious conditions, such as cancer which may require treatment first in order to improve immunodeficiency.

    Management of infections includes treatment and prevention through medications such as prescribed antibiotics and immunoglobulin therapy which involves infusion of immunoglobulins once or twice a week to improve the immune system of the patient. There are treatments available for reinstituting the immune system, which involves stem cell transplantation and gene therapy.

    The course of treatment applicable to the patient may depend upon the individual health conditions and medical needs of the patient. Alternatively, enzyme replacement therapy or transplantation of the thymus may be performed depending on the type of immunodeficiency disorder.

    Medical Care at Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka

    At Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka, we are committed to providing patient-centric comprehensive healthcare services for cancer and blood disorders. The top clinicians, consultants, surgeons, and other specialists of India belonging to different interdisciplinary disciplines of medical sciences offer their generous medical expertise and services at Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka.

    Our hospitals provide the highest quality of treatment and diagnostic services with professional medical help from well-trained medical staff who work tirelessly to tend to each individual patient with great care and compassion. Backed by high-end, technologically advanced equipment for surgeries and treatment, we strive for the highest level of comfort for our patients to ensure proper and quick recovery and healing.

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