Immunodeficiency Diseases – Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

Immunodeficiency Diseases

Germs are all around us and they reproduce so fast that it is almost impossible for us to keep us germ-free all the time. Despite taking in germs into the body now and then we all are healthy and perfect mostly. You must be surprised after reading this and now you are thinking about how come this could happen? Here is a famous quote: “Look deep into nature and you will start understanding everything better”.

Nature manifests wisdom in all phenomena of life. It has put all the strengths and mechanisms that humans need to strive in the world under all circumstances whether favorable or unfavorable. All living organisms are naturally gifted by many organs and mechanisms which are carrying out specific functions that are needed to continue life. In this article you will get to know about the body’s natural defense system, it’s a mechanism of action and the most important about all the agents that are responsible for causing immunodeficiency diseases.

A brief introduction about Immunodeficiency Diseases:

Immunodeficiency diseases are the disorders in the immune system that are caused due to some factors which can be external or internal. It is very important to have a piece of complete knowledge about the immune system and all those factors that disturb your body’s normal functioning by targeting the natural defense system, cause immunodeficiency diseases.

Immune System – The Body’s Defence System:

The immune system is defined as the natural system that differentiates self from non-self and protects the body from foreign substances and pathogenic organisms by producing a specific response against every agent which is known as an immune response.

Types of Immune System:

The defense system is divided into two main types.

1. Innate/natural immune system:

It is inborn and produces a general and immediate response against any foreign substance. The innate immune system has no memory which means it can not differentiate its targets. It is more active right after the birth of humans and during the initial years of life.

2. Acquired/Adaptive Immune System:

As the name indicates this system develops after exposure to the pathogenic organisms and takes several days to carry out the act. It is highly specific in action and has a good memory. The acquired immune system produces long term response as it can differentiate its target and can attack even after.

Both types of immune system function in synergy to protect the human body from immunodeficiency diseases. But, here the question comes that what parts of the body are working as a part of the immune system and what are their components?

Immunodeficiency Diseases

Important Structures and Components of the Immune System:

  • Bone Marrow: produces white blood cells (WBC’s) that fight against foreign substances by producing antibodies.
  • Thymus: secretes hormones that develop trains white blood cells which produces an immune response.
  • Lymph nodes: these are the structures that work as a filter for harmful substances from the blood plasma.
  • Spleen: it is an organ that contains immune cells and filters the blood by producing an immune response, it also recycles the WBC’s.
  • Tonsils: these organs contain immune cells that trap the germs, breathed in by you and kill them through antibodies.

This is how your body protects you from all the types of germs whether bacteria or viruses. But there are few substances that directly or indirectly attack the human immune system and compromises its immunity. Lack of a particular response against external factors results in immunodeficiency diseases. Let’s discuss them in detail.

What are the Immunodeficiency Diseases.?

Immunodeficiency disease can be defined as a state in which the immune system is unable to produce the required response against the external substances and hence a person becomes vulnerable to the diseases.

Classification of Immunodeficiency Diseases:

Immunodeficiency diseases are classified into two main kinds:

1. Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases:

These are inherited immunodeficiencies that are due to intrinsic factors such as genetic defects. Defects in genes which encode for the specific component of the immune system results in the following conditions:

  • A missing enzyme
  • Missing cells e.g. T cell or B cell
  • Inability to produce a specific type of antibodies

Such type of immunodeficiency diseases can pass on to the next generations.

2. Secondary Immunodeficiency Diseases:

These are non-genetic disorders in the immune system which are caused by some extrinsic factors like, poor diet, other diseases or certain types of infections by the germs. Here is a list of possible causes:

  • lymphoid malignancy or cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Malnutrition
  • Immunosuppressant drugs

Signs and Symptoms of Immunodeficiency Diseases:

Let’s know about the symptoms that identify the presence of disease.

  • Frequent and recurrent infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infection, skin infections e.t.c.
  • Inflammation and infection of internal organs
  • Low blood count: decrease in the number of white blood cells and platelets
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Susceptibility to other diseases and allergies like flu, cough e.t.c due to weakened immunity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea
  • Delayed development and growth in children
  • Positive family history with immunodeficiency diseases, in case of primary diseases

Causes of Immunodeficiency Diseases:

10 % of immunodeficiency diseases are due to some genetic defects (primary immunodeficiency diseases) while 90 % are caused by some extrinsic factors and are known as secondary immunodeficiency diseases. Some major causes of these are given below:

1. Cancer:

Many types of cancer like liver cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer affect the immune system. This is due to the disease itself and the effects of radiations during the treatment of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy kills the cells of the immune system.

2. Chromosomal:

In addition to the defects in genes encoding immune system proteins, other genetic defects like Down syndrome also causes immunodeficiency diseases.

3. Infections:

Certain type of infections like measles, chickenpox, cytomegalovirus infections Epstein-Barr virus infections, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and some bacterial infections targets the cells of the immune system and suppresses the immunity.

4. Hormonal:

These are also caused because of the hormonal disturbances in some other diseases e.g. less insulin production in diabetes mellitus can result in the immunodeficiency diseases as white blood cells do not function well when the blood sugar level is high.

5. Malnutrition:

Almost all the types of vitamins (vitamin B, C, etc) and minerals (zinc, copper, etc) are important for the normal functioning of the immune system. The deficiency of these multi-nutrients for a long time can result in immunodeficiency diseases.

6. Self-medication:

Self-medication is one of the most damaging acts done by most of the people. Few medicines need to be taken in combination and their misuse can cause severe damage to the immune system.

Diagnosis and Treatments of Immune System Disorders:

Immunodeficiency diseases are diagnosed by the physical examination and the medical history of the patients. The presence of some specific diseases (e.g. AIDS) and frequent infections confirm the immune disorders. Treatment of immunodeficiency diseases includes:

  • Antibiotics:
    Antibacterial medicines to treat bacterial infections
  • Interferons:
    Antiviral drugs prescribed to control viral infections
  • Immunoglobulin therapy:
    Synthetic antibodies are administered in patients blood to generate an immune response against foreign substances
  • Bone marrow transplant:
    In some cases, transplanted bone marrow to produce healthy lymphocytes cells. That produce an immune response.

Immunodeficiency Diseases

Prevention of Immune Disorders:

Primary immunodeficiency diseases can only be managed by avoiding cousin marriages whereas secondary immune disorders are preventable. You need to be conscious of the causes of the disease and avoid them as much as possible.

  • Sexual relationships with HIV positive patients should not be done in any case
  • Maintain your hygiene to avoid unnecessary exposure to the germs
  • Be careful while taking medical treatments such as blood transfusions, intravenous administrations and surgical procedures
  • Use sterilized types of equipment for shave or beauty purposes
  • Follow precautionary measures before meeting people with infectious diseases
  • Multi-nutrient enriched diet
  • Take care of your body organs by a healthy lifestyle

Finally, Just say thanks to God because it is a blessing to have your defense system with all-natural fighters in it so that you do not worry about to make such arrangements. But there are no such diseases which are unpreventable and incurable. Your priority must be your health. The more you invest in it, the more you will be happy and successful in your life.

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