What causes immune deficiency conditions?

Many immune deficiency conditions are genetic. Some can be traced to a single gene, while others result from multiple abnormal genes. Genetic immune deficiency conditions are called primary immune deficiencies.

Immune deficiency conditions can also be acquired. These can result from cancer treatments that decrease the production of immune cells, medications that suppress the immune system, and infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that affect the immune system.

What are the risk factors for immune deficiency conditions?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing immune deficiency conditions. Not all people with risk factors will get immune deficiency conditions. Risk factors for immune deficiency conditions include:

  • Certain chemotherapy drugs
  • Family history of an immune deficiency condition
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Multiple blood or blood product transfusions
  • Radiation therapy
  • Steroid use
  • Unsafe sexual practices
  • Use of immunosuppressants to prevent rejection of transplanted organs or tissues or to control an overactive immune system
INTRODUCTION

What are immune deficiency conditions?

The immune system is composed of multiple types of cells, tissues, organs and proteins. The primary function of the immune system is to distinguish between self and non-self (foreign). When something that is non-self, or foreign, is encountered, the immune system attacks it to help prevent infection or other injury. Immune deficiency conditions occur when the immune system is unable to do ... Read more about immune deficiency conditionsintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of immune deficiency conditions?

Immune deficiency conditions weaken the body’s ability to fight off infection. Symptoms include frequent infections, severe infections, infections that don’t respond to treatment, and recurrent infections. Repeated infections in children can interfere with nutrition, leading to failure to gain weight, weight loss, slow growth, and slow development. Chronic sinusitis and bronchitis are also commonly associated with immune deficiency conditions.... Read more about immune deficiency conditionssymptoms

TREATMENTS

How are immune deficiency conditions treated?

Treating existing infections and reducing exposure to other infections are important steps in managing immune deficiency conditions. Several primary immune deficiencies can be treated with replacement of defective immune system components. Treatment of acquired immune deficiencies varies depending upon the underlying cause of immune deficiency.... Read more about immune deficiency conditionstreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System