If you have an immune system disorder, your body doesn’t adequately produce the antibodies needed to fight off infection and diseases. There are dozens of kinds of immune system disorders, but they are usually classified as primary or acquired. You need to understand the differences between the two.
Primary Immune System Disorders
A primary immune deficiency disorder exists from birth and are usually genetic, so they have been inherited. These disorders are usually diagnosed and identified as soon as the individual is born or during early childhood.
There are about 100 primary immune system disorders, but many of them are very rare. Most of these disorders are caused by a lack of antibodies.
Some of these conditions include:
- B lymphocyte deficiencies are a condition that exist in many different forms. These might include anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, infections throughout various systems of the body, and on occasion, cancer.
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia is a disorder that affects only males and leads to infections of the lungs, skin, throat, nose, and ear.
- Combined immune deficiencies result from both T and B lymphocytes. One example is SCID, which is apparent before the child turns 1 year of age, results in severe infections, thrush, and diarrhea. To survive past age 2, a bone marrow transplant is necessary.
- T lymphocyte deficiencies cause the individual to be weaker and more susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This results in infections that are severe and more often, fatal. The most common of these would be DiGeorge Syndrome, which is caused by lacking the thymus gland.
Acquired Immune System Disorders
As the name acquired suggests, these disorders aren’t existent at birth but are caused by other circumstances. They are often caused by specific medications that temporarily suppress or cause permanent damage to the patient’s immune system.
One prime example of this is the effect caused by chemotherapy. Immune deficiency is also caused by spleen removal, since the spleen plays a major role in the immune system.
Diseases such as mono, chickenpox, tuberculosis, or lupus can cause acquired immune deficiency disorders. These diseases have potentially severe consequences, so children are vaccinated against most of them.
Acquired immune deficiency can also result from severe malnutrition, which is more often seen in third world countries. Examples of acquired immune deficiency disorders include:
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is relatively new and was seen during a 2003 outbreak in China that killed 80 people.
- AIDS, which is the result of being infected by HIV, weakens the entire immune system and often causes the individual to die from severe, unusual infectious disease.
The Application Process
While the immune deficiency disorders might have differing symptoms, the most common signs that warn of such a condition include unusual ailments and medical issues that don’t show the regular signs of recovery.
Blood tests usually are how physicians diagnose immune deficiency disorders. You can start the application process online at ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and talking with a representative.