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Immune Deficiency Disorders: Symptoms

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This information was reviewed and approved by Jessica Galant-Swafford, MD (2/1/2022).

The most apparent sign of an immune deficiency disorder is frequent or unusual infections. 

The number of infections vary in healthy people depending on several factors such as stress level, exposure to children in school, and the virulence of common viruses. This makes it harder to assess whether a person is experiencing an excessive number of infections.

The list shown below was adapted from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation’s 10 Warning Signs of a Primary Immunodeficiency (PID). Individuals who have experienced two or more of the following symptoms may have a primary immunodeficiency and should see an immunology specialist to evaluate for this:



  • Two or more new ear infections within 1 year

  • Two or more new sinus infections within 1 year, in the absence of allergy

  • One pneumonia per year (radiographically proven) for more than 1 year

  • Chronic diarrhea with weight loss

  • Recurrent viral infections (colds, herpes, warts, condyloma)

  • Recurrent need for intravenous antibiotics to clear infections

  • Recurrent, deep abscesses of the skin, lymph nodes or internal organs

  • Persistent thrush or fungal infections on skin or elsewhere

  • Infections with tuberculosis-like bacteria (also known as Nontuberculous Mycobacteria)

  • A family history of primary immunodeficiency



  • Four or more ear infections within 1 year

  • Two or more severe sinus infections within one year

  • Two or more months of antibiotic treatment with little effect

  • Two or more pneumonias per year

  • Insufficient weight gain or growth delay

  • Recurrent deep skin or organ abscesses

  • Persistent thrush in mouth or fungal infection on skin

  • Need for intravenous antibiotics to clear infections

  • Two or more deep-seated infections

  • A family history of a primary immunodeficiency