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  How to deal with recurring infections

How to deal with recurring infections

Published : Sep 12, 2016, 10:32 pm IST
Updated : Sep 12, 2016, 10:32 pm IST

Low immunity can be a common cause of recurrent infections


Low immunity can be a common cause of recurrent infections

Are you having recurrent chest infections like sinus and lung infections Is a simple sore throat, viral fever or cold complicating into pneumonia Are you prone to diarrhoea and abdominal disorders If these symptoms persist over a period of time, chances are its immunodeficiency disorder wherein low immunity makes the patients prone to viral, fungal and bacterial infections.


This disorder is commonly seen in children and senior citizens or those who are suffering from diseases like diabetes, transplant patients, Hepatitis B patients and also HIV.

Those who have immunodeficiency disorders are also prone to develop cancer tumours.

They also suffer from fevers, chills and loss of appetite and weight.

They have common complaints of pain in the stomach and also suffer from an enlarged liver of spleen.

They also can’t have hot food — as they might develop sores and are prone to chronic gum diseases and frequent ear and skin infections.

Right diagnosis Immunodeficiency disorders can affect any part of the immune system. The condition occurs when white blood cells do not function normally or the body is not able to produce enough antibodies. Primary immunodeficiency disorder is caused by alterations in the genes and often occur in males.


In India, approximately one million individuals suffer from it and have a recurrent history of infections, abdominal pain and also suffer from malnutrition.

Dr Naveen Palavarapu, senior consultant gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist at Apollo Hospitals explains, “There are a large number of patients who do not make it to proper medical setups to get diagnosed. A large number of them succumb to these conditions without even knowing what they were suffering from, let alone get treated. It is important for patients to record the history of their infections. If they find that every two or three months they are suffering from some or the other form of infection, then they must approach medical set-up and get themselves diagnosed.” Analyzing the cause Our immune system is composed of a variety of cells, especially different types of white blood cells and immunoglobulins whose principal function is defense against microbes. A deficit in the immune system as seen in secondary immunodeficiency, can therefore lead to unusually severe or uncommon recurrent infections. Dr Ganesh Jaishetwar, senior haematologist, haemato-oncologist and bone marrow transplant surgeon at Yashoda Hospitals explains, “Those who suffer from secondary immunodeficiency have higher hospitalization rates and have limited physical and social activity. These patients are very sensitive and despite treatment, they are found to fall ill very soon. Often, long term morbidity and end-organ damage relating to repeated episodes of infection can occur.”


There have been cases of permanent lung damage due to episodes of pneumonia. A number of primary immune deficiencies are associated with an increased rate of autoimmune and malignant disorders. Regular follow up and screening for these conditions is necessary for these patients.

Causes of secondary immunodeficiency include: 1 Systemic disorders like diabetes and undernutrition

2 Immunosuppressive treatments like cytotoxic chemotherapy, bone marrow ablation before transplantation and radiation therapy are some of the reasons.

3 Prolonged serious illness where hospitalization is for a longer period of time also impairs immune responses.

Treatment options Antibiotics and antivirals often help.


Vaccines like pneumococcal vaccine and flu vaccine are given to those who are suffering from this condition regularly. These are yearly vaccines and they help to produce antibodies that recognize and attack specific bacteria or viruses.

Stem-cell transplants are available for muscular disorders and also for those where the severity is too high but depend on case-to-case basis.

To reduce the risk of those suffering from this condition must ensure that they do not eat undercooked food, drink contamination water, avoid contact with people who are suffering from infections and must practice a very good personal hygiene including dental care.