|Allergy and Asthma
Southwestern United States
||Information for patients with allergy and related
in the Southwest
What is immunodeficiency?
In this problem there is a lack of adequate defense against infection caused by a defective immune system. The immune system can be damaged by certain viruses such as HIV (causing AIDS), by certain anti-cancer drugs or by excessive X-irradiation. It can be defective in severely premature babies or become defective in advanced old age. Primary immunodeficiency is caused by defective genes that control the development and function of the immune system, usually resulting in frequent, serious infections in childhood or early adult life.
Does frequent infection mean that you have immunodeficiency?
Fortunately, this is usually NOT the case for minor infections with viruses. Frequent colds and other self-limited respiratory infections are almost never caused by serious immunodeficiency: the usual cause of frequent sinus infection and chronic cough is allergy and/or asthma. Exposure to tobacco smoke, day care and formula feeding of infants are all known to increase the frequency of infection in children.
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