Immunodeficiencies in Children Questions and Answers
Frequent infections may indicate that there is a problem with your child’s immune system. Is your child showing a pattern of recurring infections? The experienced team of doctors and staff at Night Lite Pediatrics are here to help. Call us for more information. We serve patients from Greater Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne, and Port St Lucie Florida areas.
What are immune deficiency disorders?
Most of the time, the immune system protects the body from threats and germs, but sometimes it falls off track and has a weaker response to those threats. This level of low activity is called immune deficiency and makes your body less able to fight off infections. Immune deficiency disorders can be a result of an illness or medications; it also may be present from birth a genetic disorder known as primary immune deficiency. Primary immune deficiency disorders are present at birth, but they may not begin until later in life, sometimes in the teen years or adulthood. Primary immune deficiency disorders are not caused by trauma, environmental exposures, diet, or events during pregnancy, instead they are genetic disorders, meaning that every cell in a child’s body normally carries a mutated or defective gene that causes the disease. Some children have relatives with the same disorder, and sometimes the parents carry the gene, which therefore puts future children at risk of being born with the same problem.
Here are some warning signs that your child may have an immune deficiency disorder: two or more serious sinus infections in a year; two or more pneumonia’s within a year; persistent thrush, that is a fungal infection of the mouth; two or more deep-seated infections; infections that require antibiotics or intravenous; and four or more new infections in one year, including infections of the skin and the mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes, and genital area. Visual signs include enlarged lymph nodes, severe chronic digestive problems, severe eczema, failure to grow and gain weight in infancy, and serious skin infections. Internal signs involve an enlarged spleen, inflammation and infection of internal organs, like the liver, and autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes or lupus.
How is primary and secondary Immunodeficiency Diseases diagnosed in children?
First it is important to identify the difference between primary and secondary immunodeficiency diseases in children. Let’s start with primary immunodeficiency diseases, which weaken the immune system, thereby allowing infections and health problems to occur more easily and frequently. A doctor may diagnose a child with a primary immunodeficiency disease by analyzing and recognizing the following symptoms: frequent recurrent bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, skin infections, meningitis, or sinus infections; blood disorders; digestive problems; autoimmune disorders; infection and inflammation of internal organs; and delayed growth and development. Secondary immunodeficiency diseases occur when an outside source like an infection or toxin attacks a child’s body, and the following may cause a secondary immunodeficiency disorder: chemotherapy, radiation, diabetes, malnutrition, severe burns, or radiation. AIDS, cancers of the immune system (like leukemia), viral hepatitis, and multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells that produce antibodies), are a handful of examples of immunodeficiency disorders that weaken the immune system and lead a doctor to diagnose your child effectively. Your doctor may ask you to provide a medical history on your child’s behalf, perform a physical exam, determine white blood cell count, determine T cell count, and determine immunoglobulin levels.
What are different types of treatment approaches?
There are many treatment approaches with primary immunodeficiency diseases and involve treating and preventing infections, boosting the immune system, and treating the underlying cause of the immune problem. Stem cell transplantation offers a more permanent cure for a number of life-threatening immunodeficiencies. It is important to note that each treatment depends on the specific conditions, and they commonly include antibiotics and immunoglobulin therapy, and other antiviral drugs.
If you suspect that your child has an immunodeficiency disorder, we welcome you to find health for your child at Nite Lite Pediatric urgent care services. We have a committed team of health professionals and all our locations house the best in technology. We have convenient locations to serve you and we also offer telemedicine appointments.