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IMMUNODEFICIENCY – WHAT YOUR IMMUNITY LACKS !

Just in comparison to the country's defense role while there's an external attack, so is our body's innate immunity response during any attack by external pathogens. Needless to say this is the first line of defense against any foreign pathogens that try to invade our bodies. The main purpose of this innate response is to immediately prevent the spread and movement of foreign pathogens throughout the body.


The second line of defense in our body is adaptive immune response. The objective of these immune cells is to produce antibodies against specific pathogens thereby creating memory cells for long-lasting protection. But when the very same immune system starts functioning against your own body, no doubt, the hardships are freely welcoming along with chronic effects.


The author in this blog has made efforts to elucidate the same and justify the title!


Immunodeficiency simply means the malfunctioning of immune system. This leads to infections to occur more frequently and may last longer. There are two major types of immunodeficiency disorders – primary immunodeficiency disorders and secondary immunodeficiency disorders. Primary immunodeficiency disorders are the genetic disorders, passed on from parents to offsprings or may be there is some defective genes in the body itself. Secondary immunodeficiency disorders are the disorders caused due to the external or environmental factors like age, other infections, surgeries, etc. Immunodeficiency may also be seen in the old people; this is known as immunosenescence. There are several methods for the diagnosis of these disorders like genetic testing, antibody testing, etc. The treatments are mostly available for the secondary immunodeficiency disorders and include gene therapy, biologics, enzyme therapy, etc. The most important prevention from such disorders is to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.


DESCRIPTION

It refers to the inability of the immune system to produce the normal white blood cells or the hormones which are normally required by the body to protect itself from infections or any sort of illness. In simple words, immunodeficiency is the inability of the body to protect itself. There are two types of immunodeficiency disorders – first is Primary immunodeficiency disorders and the other one is Secondary immunodeficiency disorders. Primary immunodeficiency disorders are the congenital defects (present since birth). They are majorly genetic disorders caused either due to some defects in the previous generations which is passed onto the next generations; or due to certain genetic defaults or mutations in the person himself/herself. There are several types of primary immunodeficiency disorders which are classified based on the parts of immune system that is affected –

• Humoral immunity disorder, which involves B cells (lymphocytes)

• Cellular immunity disorder, which involves T cells (lymphocytes)

• Both humoral and cellular immunity disorders (B cells and T cells)

• Phagocytes disorder (cells that ingest and kill microorganisms)

• Complement proteins disorder (proteins that help immune cells kill bacteria and identify foreign cells to destroy)


The affected component of the immune system may be missing, reduced in number, or abnormal and malfunctioning. Problems with B cells are the most common primary immunodeficiency disorders, accounting for more than half.


How will you know if you have a Primary immunodeficiency disorder?

Ans. Severe or recurrent infections such as pneumonia, sinus infections, abscesses, ear infections and skin infections.

Some examples of primary immunodeficiency disorders include -- X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia, Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which is known as alymphocytosis.

Secondary immunodeficiency disorders are the diseases or disorders caused due to some external or environmental factors. These factors may be age, unhealthy lifestyle, surgeries, certain environmental toxins like heavy metals or any sort of other illness. These disorders are more common than the primary immunodeficiency disorders. They are also known as acquired immunodeficiency disorders. The main medicines that cause problems are those that target the immune system, including immunosuppressant drugs and chemotherapy. These medicines may have been used in the treatment of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and of blood and lymph node cancers in particular. There are other medicine that are recognized as causing specific complications with the immune system and these effects are not directly affecting the immune system but the way of drug metabolization.


Mechanism of Primary Immunodeficiency disorder


How will you know if you have a Secondary Immunodeficiency disorder?

Ans. The signs & symptoms for Secondary Immunodeficiency disorder is the same as primary Immunodeficiency disorder. The patients are prone to prolonged, unusual infections. One can also notice digestive problems, cramping, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea along with delayed growth and development.

For example, some anti-epileptic drugs can cause antibody deficiency. Examples of secondary immunodeficiency disorders include – AIDS, some cancers like leukaemia, viral hepatitis and multiple myeloma.

Diagnosis of immunodeficiency disorders depends upon the severity of the disorder.

They are:

• Performing a physical examination

• Determining White Blood Cell count

• Determining T – cells count

• Determining immunoglobulin levels

• Vaccines: This is also known as Antibody Test

• Biopsy

• Genetic testing

• Prenatal testing


Treatment of immunodeficiency disorders includes Antimicrobial therapy to fight and prevent infections, Immune globulin replacement therapy, Vaccinations, Specialized immune globulins, Hematopoietic cell transplant, Gene therapy, Enzyme replacement therapy and Biologics. These deficiencies or disorders can be prevented only through a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular exercise and workout and by reducing the exposure to harmful chemicals, radiations and illness/ diseases.


Mechanism of Secondary Immunodeficiency disorder


WAY FORWARD....

Immunodeficiency is the lack of ability of the body to fight against diseases and protect the body from any sort of infections. There can be several causes to this but one of the major causes is unhealthy lifestyle, lack of regular exercise and workout and exposure to several diseases. Age plays a vital role on the immune system and hence it is very crucial to become alert and careful with the old people, parents and grandparents. There are many diagnostic methods available for the patients nowadays. This has become possible due to the continuous advancements in the healthcare technologies and the research field. There are several treatments available in the country, in the world to treat immunodeficiency and the related problems, the only need is to be aware and careful about these disorders and be punctual with the regular health checkups.


Blog Author: Samridhi Ojha

Blog Reviewer: Inchara Sriram


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