Frequent infections are the hallmark of immunodeficiency, but immunodeficiency diseases also cause symptoms that mimic conditions such as allergies, asthma, and eczema. As an expert in allergies and immunology, Srinagesh Paluvoi, MD, FAAP, FACAAI, at Allergy & Asthma Affiliates, specializes in reaching the right diagnosis and providing the best treatment for your immunodeficiency. If you have questions about recurring infections, schedule an appointment online or call one of the offices in Lansdowne or Gainesville, Virginia.
When your immune system doesn’t work the way it should, it tends to do one of two things: it becomes overactive or underactive. Immunodeficiency occurs when you have an underactive immune system.
Your immune system uses components like specialized proteins and white blood cells to fight off invaders. Patients with immunodeficiency are either missing these components or the components aren’t functioning. As a result, their immune system is weak and can’t protect them from harmful invaders like bacteria, viruses, and toxins.
There are two broad categories of immunodeficiency diseases: primary and secondary. A primary immunodeficiency disease (PID) arises when there’s a problem with your immune system. Secondary immunodeficiency diseases develop due to an underlying health condition, such as HIV.
PIDs are a group of more than 300 different diseases. Most PIDs are inherited, but the disease may not be diagnosed until late childhood or adulthood. A delayed diagnosis is common because it takes time for a pattern of recurring symptoms to develop.
While each PID has its own defining symptoms, all immunodeficiency diseases make you highly susceptible to infections. Patients with PID develop symptoms such as:
A weakened immune system may also increase your chances of developing allergies.
Allergies normally develop when your immune system is overactive and mistakenly labels a harmless substance as dangerous. When you have an immunodeficiency disease, however, your weakened immune system makes it hard to tell the difference between allergies and PID.
For example, the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma may be signs of an underlying PID. At the same time, patients diagnosed with PID commonly have recurring respiratory symptoms that may be signs of an underlying allergy. Since their symptoms are attributed to PID, the allergy may go undetected.
Dr. Paluvoi targets PID treatment to help correct the specific immune system defect. For most PIDs, patients receive treatments such as bone marrow (stem cell) transplants, intravenous immunoglobulin replacement, and preventive antibiotics.
If you have frequent infections, it’s important to be evaluated at Allergy & Asthma Affiliates, where Dr. Paluvoi specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of immunodeficiency diseases. To schedule an appointment, call or use the online booking feature.