Reviewed by Shaila Gogate, MD
The most apparent sign of an immune deficiency disorder is frequent illness from other afflictions.

Most people do not realize that they have an immune deficiency disorder until they are affected by another disease or infection. Such recurrent infections are the most common problems experienced by individuals with immune deficiencies.

  • Recurrent sinus  and chest (pneumonia, bronchitis) infections are quite common. Early recognition and treatment of such infections are important to prevent permanent damage. Changes in color or amounts of sputum and nasal secretions may be early signs of infection. Antibiotic therapy is frequently required, usually for extended periods of time.

  • Conjunctivitis (eyes that are red or ooze pus) is another condition frequently observed in individuals with immune deficiency diseases. In many cases, if the patient's immune deficiency is treated monthly with gammaglobulin, the conjunctivitis improves, although additional antibiotics are sometimes needed.

  • Diarrhea is a common problem of immune deficient patients. This is often caused by infections or an overgrowth of normal bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract. Stool samples should be obtained if a patient experiences pain, bloating or diarrhea. If the results are positive for organisms such as Giardia, antibiotic therapy is necessary.

  • Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA). While Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium (germ) that is normally present on the skin and in the nose of most people, it can cause opportunistic infections in people with suppressed immune systems. What's more, certain strains of the bacteria have become resistant to a common antibiotic (methicilin) used to treat these infections. MRSA is more difficult to treat because it is resistant to methicillin and must be treated with a different antibiotic.

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