Immune deficiencies occur when an individual's ability to fight infectious disease is compromised or entirely absent. Patients who suffer from immune deficiencies experience recurrent infections, such as sinusitis and pneumonia.
There are two main types of immunodeficiencies -
primary immune deficiencies and secondary immune deficiencies.
Primary immune deficiencies are disorders that occur because part of the body's immune system does not function properly. These disorders are caused by intrinsic or genetic defects in the immune system. Therefore, individuals who have primary immune deficiencies are born with the disorder.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified nearly 100 primary immune deficiency diseases, including X-linked agammaglobulinemia (Bruton's Disease), common variable immune deficiency (CVID), and selective immunoglobulin A deficiency.
Many individuals affected by primary immune deficiency diseases require life-long therapies, such as intravenous immune globulin infusions, antibiotic therapies, or bone marrow transplantations.
Secondary immunodeficiencies are caused by factors outside of the body, such as chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy, malnutrition, HIV infection, and diabetes. Diseases like leukemia and multiple myeloma (types of cancers) cause cancerous immune cells to infiltrate the bone marrow, which is responsible for producing immune system cells. Secondary immune deficiency also occurs among critically ill patients or the elderly.
Secondary immunodeficiencies usually resolve once the underlying illness is treated or the outside factor is eliminated. For instance, immune deficiencies caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy generally resolve once the treatment is completed.
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