An immune deficiency disease is defined as any one of a group of diseases caused by the impairment of the immune system. Immunodeficiency disorders are a group of disorders in which part of the immune system is either missing or defective.
Consequently, the body's ability to fight infections is impaired.
People with an immune deficiency disease suffer from the invasion of microorganisms that do not seriously harm healthy people. As a result, patients of an immunodeficiency disorder have frequent life threatening infections most commonly in the ear, intestines and respiratory system. Other common problems are organ or bone infections, blood infections and meningitis.
The immune system comprises of a collection of cells, specialized organs and proteins in the blood that work collectively to defend the body against foreign substances that invade the body from the external environment. A large number of genes are required to create the components of the immune system. Defective genes are a cause of immune deficiency diseases. Such genetic immune deficiency leads to frequent bacterial, viral or fungal infections and is known to increase the possibility of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and a specific kind of anemia that results from premature destruction of RBC. When the immune system is impaired during fetal development, it results in a congenital immune deficiency disorder. This condition is present from birth but is not necessarily inherited. There are nearly 100 inherited or congenital immune deficiency diseases collectively called primary immune deficiency diseases. The probability of occurrence of these diseases is 1 in every 10,000 people. Even though more than 70 different types of congenital immunodeficiency disorders have been identified, they rarely occur. About 50,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Congenital immunodeficiency may occur as a result of defects in B-lymphocytes, T lymphocytes or both.
The secondary or acquired immune deficiency diseases are relatively more common than the primary disorders. This category of immune deficiency diseases develops due to illness, traumatic injury or consumption of therapeutic drug that damages the functioning of the immune system. The most common causes of acquired immunodeficiency are malnutrition, some types of cancer and infections. People who weigh less than 70 percent of the average weight of persons of the same age and gender are considered to be malnourished. Infectious viruses such as German measles or rubella, measles, Epstein-Barr virus and human immunodeficiency virus or HIV can damage the immune system. The progress of secondary or acquired immune deficiency disease can be reversed, if the underlying cause is treatable.
The major symptoms of most immunodeficiency disorders are repeated infections that heal slowly and continue for long periods of time. Patients suffering from chronic infections tend to be pale and thin. They also show the presence of skin rashes; enlarged lymph nodes, liver and spleen; and broken blood vessels especially near the surface of the skin resulting in bluish black marks. The person may also suffer hair loss, conjunctivitis and chronic nasal dripping. Immune deficiency is diagnosed by various blood tests. Treatment involves intake of antibiotics to fight the ongoing infection and lower the risk of developing additional infections. Secondary treatment of immune deficiency attempts to restore immune function and if required, to replace the missing immune cell component.
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