Charlottesville Allergy & Respiratory Enterprises
434-295-ASAP (2727) 1524 Insurance Lane, Suite B, Charlottesville, Virginia 22911

Immunodeficiency and Chronic or Recurrent Infections in Charlottesville

Individuals suffering from immunodeficiency contract common infections such as sinusitis, ear infections and pneumonia more frequently than others without it. These infections are often more severe and associated with a higher chance of complications. Furthermore, these infections in individuals with immunodeficiency may have limited response to the use of antibiotics and may have more frequent recurrences after treatment with antibiotics has been completed.  Individuals with some types of immunodeficiency may also be more prone to develop infections inside areas such as bones, joints, liver, heart or brain. While in a majority of individuals, the frequency of infections leads to a thorough immunological evaluation, in others, a single difficult-to-treat infection with an unusual germ may require a detailed work up.

Practical guidelines that are helpful in determining recurrence or chronicity of infections include the need for >4 courses of antibiotic treatment per year in children or >2 per year in adults; occurrence of >4 new ear infections in one year (after four years of age); development of pneumonia twice over any time; occurrence of >3 episodes of bacterial sinusitis in one year or the occurrence of chronic sinusitis; need for preventive antibiotics to decrease the number of infections, and an unusually severe or rare infection. If you have any of the conditions noted above, your allergist/immunologist will consider if you need to be evaluated for immunodeficiency. If an immunodeficiency is detected, early treatment prevents complications of infections that then contribute to making other infections worse and more difficult to treat. Patients who have a family history of immunodeficiency or unexplained severe infections should also sometimes be evaluated for an immunodeficiency, even before they develop any infections. In younger children, who typically have a large number of respiratory infections, parents should be vigilant for unusually frequent or severe infections. This is because the most serious immunodeficiencies usually become apparent during the first years of life. Fungal infections in this younger age group may also be a good reason to see a physician.

Once your allergist diagnoses an immunodeficiency, he or she can provide treatments that help the individual lead a more full life. Some common forms of immunodeficiency are often treated with infusions of antibodies called intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG), which replace the antibodies that the individual's body is unable to make.

(Information only; not intended to replace medical advice; adapted from AAAAI)