Immunodeficiency: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Oct 31, 2019
What is Immunodeficiency?
Immunosuppression A child suffering from immunodeficiency tends to fall sick quite frequently because of a genetic disorder that he/she may have acquired from the parents. This is a condition that is associated with the impairment of some of the white blood cells and the immunoglobulin protein that are responsible for warding off diseases, especially infections. These children usually suffer from bouts of pneumonia, ears, lungs or sinus infections assailing them.
The treatment is preceded by proper diagnosis where the doctor gets acquainted with the medical history of the child as well as the family records. After that, based on the symptoms, a blood test is conducted to assess the condition of the immunity system. The diagnosis is followed by doses of antibiotics or medications that exist to fight off infections.
Children suffering from a serious case of immunodeficiency are treated with high doses of antibiotics that are injected within the child’s system via Intravenous Therapy. This treatment usually takes several hours and the child should be under constant observation wherein the operation needs to be conducted once every few weeks. Other treatments include Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy and Stem Cell Transplant.
How is the treatment done?
The initial steps of diagnosis comprise of skin tests, blood tests, occasional genetic testing and a biopsy. The blood test helps determine the levels of infection fighting proteins (immunoglobin) in the blood. The common treatments for immunodeficiency include immunoglobin therapy and antibiotics. Apart from this, antiviral drugs like amantadine, interferon and acyclovir are used while treating viral infections that are caused by such disorders.
In case of primary disorders, medications like decongestants (for sinus congestion), ibuprofen for fever and pain and expectorants for thin mucus in the airways help cure symptoms brought about by infections.
Immune globulin is prescribed when the antibody count in a patient is very low or in cases when they are not functioning properly. The treatment depends on certain specific conditions. A person with AIDS is usually treated with an antiretroviral to fight the HIV infection. On occasions when a person’s bone marrow is not producing sufficient lymphocytes, a bone marrow transplant might also be suggested by the doctor. In case of a severe disorder a stem cell transplantation might also be done.
Who is eligible for the treatment?
A child or a person who is suffering from regular bouts of infections owing to a compromised immunity system is eligible to go ahead with the treatment.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Our immune system exists to fight off foreign attacks from viruses and bacteria. But some viruses like the common flu can come back again and again because this virus changes its strain every time it attacks our body, thereby making it difficult for our immune system to identify the virus each time. Therefore the recurrence of a common flu should not be mistaken for a condition of immunodeficiency. Children tend to normally suffer from bouts of common cold till 5 years of age and for those common anti-cold medicines are sufficient. A common case of cold, fever or such diseases may not need to be followed by an immunodeficiency treatment at all.
Are there any side effects?
Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy is performed by Intravenous administration. In simpler words the Immunoglobulin Protein is injected into the bloodstream using an IV needle. During the process the patient can have side effects such as low-grade fever, fatigue, backache, muscle ache, nausea and vomiting. These side effects can be noticed 30 minutes into the operation. In this case stopping the infusion for a few minutes or reducing the intensity of the infusion can be tried.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
The prevention of secondary medical conditions is of primary importance. There must be access to prolonged intravenous along with administration of IVIG every 2-4 weeks to maintain the levels of serum antibodies.
In case of long term intravenous, availability of venous access devices that are implantable must be looked into. These devices are quite reliable as they have been in use for long periods without any complications.
Annual visits to the physician and thorough examination ascertain immediate treatment.
How long does it take to recover?
Primary Immunodeficiency Disorder and Secondary Immunodeficiency Disorder are the two types of diseases that weaken the immune system. These patients need life-long treatment in order to lead a healthy life. An Intravenous Immunoglobulin infusion may keep infections at bay for quite long, but the process needs to be repeated eventually. Even Antiretrovial Therapy is known to combat HIV but complete recovery is not possible. Patients need to undergo treatment throughout his/her life.
Are the result of the treatment permanent?
Immunoglobulin replacement therapy along with antibiotic therapy is known to ameliorate the conditions of people suffering from Common Variable Immune Deficiency. The treatment prevents the patient from being assailed by infection for a long time to come and it also disallows the development of chronic inflammatory changes in tissues.
- Immunodeficiency disorders- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from:
- Immunosuppression- NIH, National Cancer Institute [Internet]. cancer.gov 2015 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from:
- Overview of Immunodeficiency Disorders- Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. merckmanuals.com 2018 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from:
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