What is Common Variable Immunodeficiency

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) – an immune disorder in which the immune system lacks the ability to produce adequate antibodies to protect the body from infection. Though there are normal numbers of B-lymphocytes in the blood circulation, these antibody-producing cells are lacking immunoglobulin G (IgG), a protein essential for antigen recognition and antibody production. IgG is the foundation for most antibodies that the immune system produces.

Symptoms of Common Variable Immunodeficiency and Diagnostic Path

Symptoms of common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) can show up any time after about age 10 though most commonly appear in the late 20s and early 30s. Generally the person has the same type of infection repeatedly, as the immune system is not producing antibodies to protect against the infectious agent. The key symptom is a progressive pattern of recurrent or chronic infections. Infections are most commonly upper respiratory, sinuses, throat, and middle ear-typically bronchitispneumonia, pharyngitis, sinusitis, and otitis media.

Infections may be viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. Some people also have gastrointestinal infections. The severity of infection varies among people who have CVID as well as within an individual from infection to infection. The diagnostic path includes blood tests to measure IgG and antibody levels. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels may also be low.

Treatment Options and Outlook

The main therapeutic course is reducing exposure to known infection (such as common viral infections) and treatment with antibiotic medications at the first sign of infection. gammaglobulin injections can bolster the immune system, though the gammaglobulin (which comes from blood or plasma donors) may not contain the specific antibodies the person needs. With effective medical management and diligent prevention efforts, most people who have CVID can enjoy relatively normal lifestyles and life expectancy.

Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

Most CVID is acquired, though researchers do not know what causes it to occur. There are no known measures for preventing CVID. CVID occurs more frequently in people who have autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (sle).

Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for preventing substantial lung damage that can occur from recurrent infections.


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