Frequent infections are the hallmark of immunodeficiency disorders, but this large and complex group of health problems often mimics allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma. With expertise in immunology, allergies, and asthma, Cathy Green, MD, at Comprehensive Allergy and Asthma Associates is highly qualified to diagnose and treat immunodeficiency diseases. If you’re worried about frequent infections or you have questions about immunology, call the office in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles or schedule an appointment online.
Immunology is a field of medicine that specializes in the immune system. Your immune system normally protects you from disease, but things can go wrong.
The immune system can become overactive and cause disease. Allergies are one of the most common examples of an overactive immune system. Autoimmune diseases also develop when an overactive immune system attacks a healthy part of your own body.
Your immune system can also become weak and unable to fight disease. When your body can’t form an immune response, you have an immunodeficiency. Immunodeficiency can be caused by a genetic disease, or it can develop due to an underlying health condition such as AIDS.
There are hundreds of primary immunodeficiency diseases targeting different parts of your body and causing unique symptoms. All immunodeficiency diseases, however, make you vulnerable to infections. As a result, their most common symptoms are illnesses such as:
Some patients who appear to have allergies may have respiratory symptoms caused by a weak immune system. The most common immunodeficiency condition, immunoglobulin A or IgA deficiency, is associated with recurrent respiratory infections.
When Dr. Green suspects you may have an immunodeficiency disorder, she performs blood tests to assess your immunoglobulin levels and antibody and lymphocyte levels, which reflect your immune system functioning.
Dr. Green may also test for allergies because they’re often associated with recurring infections. Allergy testing is done by skin testing or ImmunoCAP® IgE blood testing.
Once an immunodeficiency condition is diagnosed, Dr. Green prescribes treatment to boost the deficient part of your immune system so it can fight infections. Several types of treatment are available, but the two that Dr. Green most often uses are the Pneumovax® vaccination and intravenous immunoglobulin.
Gamma globulin, or immunoglobulin G, contains a group of infection-fighting antibodies that are normally in your bloodstream. Immunoglobulin G levels are low in patients with an immunodeficiency disorder. An intravenous infusion builds up your immune system and prevents infections.
If you develop frequent infections, call Comprehensive Allergy and Asthma Associates or schedule an appointment online.