Tags: Health Topics | immune system | infections

Do Recurrent Infections Mean Your Immune System Is Not Working?

By    |   Friday, 21 August 2015 09:54 PM

Recurrent infections may indicate a deficiency in the immune system, but could also suggest other health conditions. Doctors can help patients find out the underlying problem by knowing about their frequent infections and the types of treatment they’ve had.

The immune system works to fight off infections caused by foreign invaders in the body. Sometimes it doesn’t work properly and people must deal with an occasional infection. However, too many infections might signal the presence of an immune deficiency, also called immunodeficiency. It can happen to children and adults.

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The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology reported that signs of a possible immune deficiency include:
  • Having more than four ear infections in one year after age 4.
  • Developing pneumonia twice during a period of time.
  • Suffering from chronic sinusitis or more than three episodes of bacterial sinusitis in a year.
  • Needing antibiotics to reduce the number of infections.
  • Needing more than four courses of antibiotics a year for children and more than two times a year for adults.
  • Experiencing severe infections that began as common bacterial infections.

There are generally two types of immunodeficiency. Primary immunodeficiency disease stems from genetics and is often determined in infancy or childhood. However, symptoms can also be diagnosed later in adults. Secondary immunodeficiency may occur from medications for cancer or autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes. Medications that suppress the immune system for surgery might also cause secondary immunodeficiency.

Symptoms may vary for people with primary immunodeficiency, which may cause frequent or longer-lasting infections that become more difficult to treat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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These signs include frequent or recurring bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis or skin infections. Other symptoms could include blood disorder, digestive problems, and inflammation or infection of internal organs. Delayed growth development may be seen in children. Autoimmune disorders may be the result of infections from a weak immune system.

The Merck Manual pointed out that having many cold symptoms may not necessarily mean a person has an immunodeficiency disorder. However, recurring head colds and sore throats that lead to pneumonia or other infections could suggest an immune system that is not working properly.

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Recurrent infections may indicate a deficiency in the immune system, but could also suggest other health conditions.
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Friday, 21 August 2015 09:54 PM
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