The immune system protects the body from germs, bacteria and fungi. The bone marrow makes white blood cells that help the immune system function. Sometimes, people inherit conditions wherein the immune system does not work properly. This is called primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD) and there are more than 150 of them. People with these diseases are missing certain parts of the immune system. As a result, they have many infections in different parts of the body. Additionally, these infections are hard to cure.
Immunodeficiency, such as PIDD, can target specific parts of the body. They may change growth patterns and facial features. Also, others cause autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. PIDD indicators include:
* repeated difficult to cure infections
* slow growth
* weight loss
* frequent skin or organ abscesses
* autoimmune disease
People with these indicators should see an allergist or immunologist. The proper tests will be run and the physician will come up with a treatment plan. Years ago, children with PIDD did not live past childhood. Today, they can live normal lives with the proper treatment. Physicians make this possible by trying different methods of replacing parts of the immune system. One common method is a bone marrow transplant wherein patients get healthy white blood cells. Another common treatment is immunoglobulin (IgG) replacement therapy. The antibody IgG helps the body fight infection. Patients receive infusions in a vein (IVIG) in their arm or in fatty tissue (SubQ) below the skin. Stem cell transplants are very effective for patients with the most severe immune disorders.
It is important to remember that not all immunodeficiency is inherited. There are diseases that affect the immune system like cancer and HIV. Certain drugs can also weaken the immune system. People with immune disorders should avoid exposure to possible infections. Further, they should try and stay as healthy as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by staying away from other people who are sick and washing the hands often. In addition, individuals need to eat a nutritious diet and get plenty of rest. Hopefully, medical advancements lead to new and better ways of treating people with compromised immune systems.
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