IMMUNODEFICIENCY DISEASE, Including AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
IMMUNODEFICIENCY DISEASE, Including AIDS
(Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
DESCRIPTIONImmunodeficiency disease is a defect in the body's immune system. A healthy immune system protects the body against germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi), cancer (partial protection) and any foreign material that enters the body. When the system fails, the body becomes susceptible to infection and cancer. The immune system (blood, bone marrow, lymph tissue, liver, spleen, and thymus gland) is involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to transplant bone marrow or the thymus gland (occasionally).
Hospitalization for treatment of serious infection.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSEar or respiratory infections, such as otitis media and pneumonia.
Yeast infections, especially candidiasis.
Cancer, especially leukemia and lymphoma.
Meningitis or encephalitis.
Recurrent, severe infections and illnesses. The most common include:
CAUSESBirth defects that involve an incomplete or absent immune system.
Surgical removal of the spleen before age 2.
Use of immunosuppressive drugs.
Some cancers, such as Hodgkin's disease.
Hypogammaglobulinemia (See Glossary).
Viral infections, such as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
RISK FACTORSPoor nutrition.
Male homosexual activity, blood transfusions, or intravenous drug use (AIDS only).
Family history of immunodeficiency disease.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
If you have a family history of immunodeficiency disease, seek genetic counseling before starting a family.
If you are a practicing homosexual, become celibate or practice "safe sex." See special entry on AIDS.
Your own observation of symptoms, especially repeated infections in your child.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies of antibodies, microscopic examination of blood and tissue cells, and skin tests.
X-rays of the thymus gland.
Radioactive studies of immune function.
Special studies that may include ultrasonography, CAT or CT scan, MRI, radionuclide scan (See Glossary for all).
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSUncontrolled bacterial, viral or fungal infections that don't respond to treatment; cancer; infectious arthritis.
Severe forms of immunodeficiency are usually fatal. Minor forms can be treated successfully.
Your child should avoid exposure to persons with contagious illnesses.
Your child should not take any type of vaccine without medical advice.
Your child should not take prescribed cortisone or immunosuppressive drugs without getting a second medical opinion.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight infections; injections of antibodies; transfusions of blood components; injections of gamma globulin (sometimes).
Bed rest is usually necessary for your child during acute illnesses. Otherwise, there are no restrictions on activity.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of immunodeficiency disease.
After diagnosis, your child has signs of infection, such as chills, fever, muscle aches, headache, dizziness, and cough with thick, discolored or blood-streaked sputum.